I was such a basket case a coupla days ago while watching my kids pull away with their dad to spend Father’s Day and a week at the beach, with their him, and without me. I cried my heart out after they left, as it was all I could do to keep it reeled in prior to the moments before they walked out the door. I even cried my contacts out. I moved solemnly through the day, seeing traces of them everywhere I turned. The overturned shoe, the towel on the floor, the unwashed dishes in the sink…were all evidences of a heartbreaking absence on a day that, unlike religious celebrations, isn’t one we can choose to take part in. On a day like Father’s Day you fall into 4 categories: You either have a Father or you don’t, or want the one you have or wish you could have had some say-so in the selection process and want to call a foul ball on the whole deal, and be granted another swing at the plate.
When my kids aren’t with me, one of the things I rarely do is sit at the kitchen table and eat a meal. On this day in particular, I opted to partake my Mediterranean couscous medley straight from the plastic take-out container while standing in front of my Faux French doors (faux, because only half of the system is actually a working door, the other half is a large window in the shape of a door) in our sunroomish room while spying on my neighbors packing their minivan for what seemed to be their family vacation to a coastal destination. The dad, doing his dad job of packing the minivan, strategically placed, suitcases, coolers, brightly colored sand toys, and boogie boards in the rear compartment of the vehicle. After the van, including the children, were properly stuffed to the brim, they locked and left their house, and turned the van out of their driveway and vacated the neighborhood for what I presume to be a 6 night, 7 day stay.
After I saw the lot of them turn left out of their driveway, I burst into tears again. My eyes were swollen by now and looked like steam vents in a store bought chicken pot pie. I sat at our kitchen table and dropped my head down onto my arms, listening to the dull hum thhe ceiling fan positioned directly over the middle of the table made. The gentle breeze on the back of my neck smoothed my worries like a mother’s hand. What I felt was a Great Need. I needed to go buy a couch. Or go sign up for banjo lessons or open a bottle of wine, fall in love. Anything. Anything but this moment. I sat there, alone, pitiful. dehydrated, my body limply draped over the 200 thread count vinyl tablecloth, the finest Target had to offer, until my mind clicked back to the origins of the ceiling fan.
I remembered the lights blowing out in the light fixture that was in place before the current arrangement. The light died, it just died deader than a doornail that night. Many weeks past while we lived without a light or proper air circulation, until one evening at my son’s baseball practice, I was telling a friend of mine what had happened and she said that she just so happened to have a ceiling fan, along with some other household décor items that no longer complimented her current home décor in her trunk. “Take a look and take what you want, it’s all headed for Goodwill anyway, “ she said. I’d like to think that my budget conscious mindset is an attempt to help the world by recycling, it isn’t. I’m just cheap and “Free” always seems to find a way to harmonize with my current home décor. So I snagged that baby up.
After the acquisition phase of the ceiling fan came the conundrum of installation. I watched several YouTube videos on ceiling fan installation. After repeated and failed attempts, I for saw that my stubbornness could very well lead to my electrocution. I came to the conclusion that ceiling fan installation is a Two Person Job: one to hold and position the fan, the other to do the wiring. And what I needed to complete the installation was a dad. A dad would know what to do and would be willing. Since I didn’t have one of these and didn’t know anyone with an extra one just lying around their house at that moment in time, I sought the services of a licensed electrician to do the job for me, which of course they were more than pleased to do.
It wasn’t always this way, being in the “dadless” category. There was once a man who married a woman and together created me, but he left shortly after I was born. The reasons for my biological father’s absence during my childhood aren’t fully in my possession. I’ve chased many rabbit holes and still don’t understand. I, like every child, believed gone was simply gone and there weren’t any reasons good enough to keep him away if he really, deeply loved me. Every November 27, I still wonder if he remembers I was born. My step-father, the man my mother married shortly after the divorce and who was present during my growing up years, is not a person currently in my life, but I remember him. I remember well.
A beautiful, hallowing aspect of growing into an adult is that you get to choose for yourself who will be apart of your life and this includes electricians to even our own parents. Sometimes these people, whether by birthright or invitation, are loving, kind and continually seek our best whether paid or unpaid; with others, it can be quite the opposite. Sometimes the people we love and want relationships with try, they really try hard, but still aren’t safe enough to be around. With others, we’ve done all you know to do but the relationship is like trying to hold water in cupped hands. We have hard decisions to make.
Letting go is a painful process. I say process because for me, at least, it hasn’t happened overnight. I wish it did. The tremendous hurts that I have endured and inflicted have often led to tremendous hate. I’ve spent years and a small fortune in co-pays with therapists wrestling to loosen the noose of forgiveness around their neck and my own in fervent attempts to wrap my brain around a formula for forgiveness. My conclusion, there isn’t one.
Ultimately, it’s decision, I believe. It’s a conscious choice to view ourselves and others not as liars and thieves but precious and spoken for. In this choice, there are moments, beautiful moments, that we trace evidence of our sacredness, if we are willing. Remembering these moments isn’t an attempt to wrap up very messy situations with a nice colorful bow, but an opportunity to allow ourselves to feel everything from rage to disappointment, selfless love to inexplicable joy! And this is a gift we ultimately give ourselves.
I remember when my step-father set about building me a swing when I was around five or so. And when I say build, I mean he went into the woods behind our house, cut down two scrub pines, drug them to our backyard, dug two holes in the ground, poured concrete and set them as posts in somewhat of a plumb fashion. He attached the pine posts together at the top with a single two by four, while another wooden board hung from two lines of marine grade rope and served as the seat. Uncounted childhood hours were spent playing trapeze, twirling and untwirling in dizzying delight, or pretending to be the “First Girl Astronaut”, this was my swing. In a world of Not Mine, it was Mine, custom built. I remember laughing, I do, with my pigtails trailing in a breeze and a strong man with straight arms running under me on my swing, pushing me so high my legs stretched across the whole sky while my heart melted in the sun to a trumpeted call. This is my moment.