Today was the first day in almost 7 years that I talked to the guy who is supposed to be my dad. John last reached out to me in December of 2013. Well ok, his wife Dawn sent me a friend request on Facebook and then a message. The message explained that his hiatus from my life was due to his ex-wife Nancy.
I took this excuse with a grain of salt because he was gone long before Nancy showed up, but hey I’ll keep an open mind. I happened to be flying home to visit my mom, and meet my nephew Michael who had just been born. I responded to Dawn letting her know that I’d be coming home and that I could take a day and come visit them. She insisted that they would come to me so that I didn’t have to figure out how to get over to them. I thought, okay wow he’s finally making an effort.
The day comes for them to visit, and to my surprise they came early! I was engaged with the conversation for about 10 minutes until the red flags started popping up. With each verbal exchange, I noticed John’s attention shifting. I heard my brother waking up upstairs, and watched John’s eyes shift toward the stairs. It then dawned on me that he wasn’t there to see me, he was there to meet his grandson.
I navigated my way through the rest of that visit and before John left he said he’d keep in touch. Once they were out the door I asked my brother if he had talked to him lately. My brother told me he hadn’t been answering his calls since Michael was born. I felt used but kept a sliver of hope that John meant what he said, that he would finally be a dad.
Which brings us back to today. After writing about my conversation with Jamal, I got to thinking about John. Since I had no way of contacting him I sent Dawn a message on Facebook asking if he was alive. She let me know that they weren’t together anymore, but that he is in fact alive. She even went as far as letting me know that he has been waiting for me to get in touch with him. Well shit, I dropped the ball on that one!(insert facepalm emoji here)
“I’m curious if he’s alive and how he’s doing? Haven’t heard from him in 7 years.” Dawn liked my directness in approaching her. I figured I was entitled to a minor snarky comment. She happily sent me a text message with his contact info. (For those keeping score at home: I had messaged her on Facebook and after a couple back-and-forths she then sent me a text message. Clearly showing that they’ve had my number for 7 years and this was the first time either one of them had ever used it.)
I looked at the contact info for a few seconds. I asked myself if this was really a box that I wanted to open again. Even after I reminded myself that he’s been consistently absent for 32 years, I figured fuck it, what do I have to lose? I sent that green bubble iPhone message and actually got a response after about 5 minutes.
“Yea I am alive good to hear from you call me some time”
I’ve had a few hours to digest that text and I still smirk when I read it. This guy still can’t show some initiative and make an effort. I don’t know why, but I’m going to give him a call. Part of me wonders if I’m just doing a character study, or perhaps I’m digging for some buried treasure of emotional storytelling. Maybe I’m just really watching and learning how to not be a dad so that when the day comes for me to be a dad I know what to do? Spoiler alert, I’m going to be a kick-ass dad someday.
What I do know is that I refuse to hold hate inside of my heart. I refuse to lose hope. I refuse to let the 7 year old kid that is inside of me down. Everything has the potential to be awesome, and maybe John can still provide something. If he doesn’t, well I still have my mom to look up to.
“A true hero isn’t measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.” — Zeus, Hercules