Yesterday was Father’s Day and my father didn’t answer his phone. I have only spoken to him three times in the past two years. I felt bad about this and had envisioned myself taking him out to brunch on father’s day and updating him on my life and maybe beginning to repair our relationship. I first tried to call him two weeks ago. He does not own a cell phone or a computer. He has a landline with no answering machine. I’m pretty sure he has caller id, though. He didn’t answer my call. I let four days go by and then I called him again. No answer. I waited until the day before father’s day to call again- surely he was keeping this day open to spend time with his child, right? No answer.
I was meeting some friends near his house. The truth is he lives only blocks from some of my dearest friends and yet it has been over two years since I have seen him. I decided to stop by his house to give him a card. The thought of brunch was no longer a viable option I realized. I lowered my expectations to a brief but nice meeting at his home where I would hug him goodbye when I left. I wasn’t sure what house was his because I have not been there in at least ten years. I turned onto his road and pulled up to what I thought was his house. I walked up the stairs to the front porch and was immediately greeted by a terrible stench and a pile of trash. Yep, this was my dad’s house.
The windows were open and I could see into the living room. The tv was on but it was dark inside. I knocked on the door. No one answered. I knocked once more and called out hello. Still no one came to the door. The smell of cat urine and trash was overwhelming to me. I placed his card that said DAD on the front of it on a table that was covered in cigarette ashes. Secretly I was relieved that no one answered the door because it meant that I did not have to see my dad living this way. I went back down the stairs and ran to my car.
I drove to my nearby friend’s house as fast as I could. I was nervous he was somehow following me and I felt ashamed for leaving as quickly as I did. I didn’t allow myself at first to dwell on what just happened. I knew this was my dad’s life now and I had accepted it a long time ago. There was no need to be upset about it. But I couldn’t stop the tears from bubbling up in my eyes. Why was this the life I was given? Why was this the father I was born to? Why didn’t my dad care to see me or even talk to me for years? Why would he choose to live in literal shit like a homeless squatter than make a home that he could be proud of and could share with his children?
I arrived at my friend’s house and let these thoughts spill out of me. I began to cry. Fuck it- I’ve spent too many days of my life crying about him. I decided to get drunk and spend the rest of the night with people who love me. My friends don’t know it but they breathed life back into me Saturday night. We drank and joked and sang and danced and ate really good cheesy pizza and when my head hit the pillow later that night I had no memory at all of the trash filled porch or the father’s day card I left on it.