A reader suggested on Facebook a year ago that I write a blog for Father’s Day. To be completely honest, I have no idea where to start. It’s something that I haven’t done and have never even thought of doing. However, I want to do this.
I am sitting here in front of the computer screen, listening to my Yiruma station on Pandora, with my hands resting on the keyboard, lightly tapping the home-row keys at random intervals. Would moving my fingers jot my brain to write up a blog that would celebrate all important male figures on this day?
As a different song comes on, I dig into the vault of my childhood memories. It brings on a sense of nostalgia and yet, I can’t help but be sad. The music isn’t helping with my emotions either.
How long has it been since we last spoke? It was around this time of the year, 9 years ago. Ever since you left, our conversations always ended up the same: the two of us being disappointed at one another for not stepping up to fulfill our duties to each other. You did not live up to the image of the father I had envisioned. I was no longer the quiet little girl you once knew. I was hurt by your lack of effort, and you didn’t appreciate my bluntness. Our relationship—if we even have one—is frustratingly sad.
I don’t know how it is to grow up with a father because you haven’t been around since I was 12. I like to believe you and I shared some good memories during the short amount of time we had together. However, to protect herself, little MB has locked most of her childhood memories away—the good along with the bad. I am unable to access those memories and sometimes they emerge only in bits and pieces.
Despite it all, this daughter of yours still remembers some. I believe my first heart-warming memory of us is the time we took the Amtrak to the zoo for a preschool field trip. I don’t remember much of it, but I do remember the happy feeling I had. There was that time you told me you caught a mermaid, but she was so tiny (as small as your thumb), that you had to let her go. You brought me 3 mermaid figurines instead. Do you remember when you told me that in order to become a mermaid, I had to soak myself in salt water until I grew scales and fins? Of course, you were only humoring me, but did you know that I laid in the bathtub for hours. Just picture Madison from “Splash” pouring table salt into a tub full of water. And then there was the one and only time you took me to the mall to buy shoes. I was so happy, even though they were only the $10 plain white sneakers from Payless. And lastly, I remember those fishing trips we would take as a family together during the summer.
But Father, there must be more. We had 12 years together and these are the only good memories I could remember of you. It’s unfortunate, isn’t it? That when I think of you, I can only think of the abuse I endured and witnessed as a child.
I have come to know some great men in your absence. Let me tell you about them:
Uncle Soua: My mom’s younger brother—the man who yells at you and acts so tough and yet will pat your head and tell you he loves and cares for you when he’s drunk. As I have grown older, he has stopped his lectures. I think it’s a way of letting go because I am now an adult. I sometimes miss it. I will be forever grateful for the things I’ve learned from him and for everything that he has done.
Bob: Don’t know if you remember him, or if he came after you were already gone, but he was the manager at the apartment complex where we grew up. Bob and his wife, Barbara, always looked out for us, always gave to this little community of poor Hmong families. They converted the little storage shed next to their office into a library where we could borrow books on a daily basis. I have to say that I garnered my love for reading from spending hours with my nose in their collections of The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, and The Boxcar Children. Bob passed away two years ago, but he’ll always live on in the hearts of the Hmong families he cared for so deeply.
Your son-in-law: You’ve never met him and I don’t think you ever will. However, he is the one of the best things that happened to me. He is also the father of your two beautiful and bright grandchildren. You would love him. You and he both share the same love for fishing.
Father, I want to also thank you as well. Your actions created a ripple effect in creating who I am today. I am happy and I hope you are too. Wherever you are, I wish you a Happy Father’s Day.