Father’s Day looms near, and it’s a day of mixed feelings for me. Growing up, my life was ok. I moved a lot, had no real steady or reliable male figure in my life, and my mom struggled both financially and emotionally raising two rambunctious children on her own. My younger brother and I were raised knowing that our father’s weren’t exactly eager to see us grow up or take part in any aspect of our lives, or even our very existence . Being so young, it didn’t matter. We knew that our mother was always there for us and we had enough on our plates, backs and over our heads to remind us that we were loved. But as I got older, and saw friends who did have their fathers around, I got a bit envious. Not only were my friend’s families whole, but my younger brother’s father visited him and even took him away to visit one summer. Even though I know it didn’t really seem like much to him, to me, it was more time than I would ever experience in my lifetime with my own father.
I have few memories of my father. He was in my life momentarily, if that, and the memories of him weren’t exactly what I would’ve wanted, or any child would’ve wanted for that matter. He was a violent drug-addict in denial, who chose to expose me to his habit despite the dangers. He abandoned my family and I at a young age and left behind nothing more than a legacy of debauchery and failure for me to remember him by. I have two halfway decent memories of my “dad”, whose name is Joe by the way. Short for Sergio, although for all I know, it may not be his real name. For he lied about pretty much everything. I remember him trying to teach me to play the piano, and watching him perform. You see, my father was a very talented man. He could play any instrument he laid his hands on and he had the voice of an angel. My mother saw this in him, and immediately did all she could to help him be a success at it. Even getting him a shot to perform on a local tv show for exposure. But he never showed. He was offered record deals, but never took them because he didn’t want to abandon his band mates. That was fair enough, but in my eyes, I just don’t think he wanted to abandon his drugs. Ultimately, my father chose his drugs over us. Over everything. Over me. This realization didn’t hit me until I was 15, putting together the invitation list for my Quinceneara. I wanted to invite him so badly. But I knew he wouldn’t show. Why after 15 years bother showing up now? Being so young, I still really cared. I hoped, I prayed that maybe if he was given another chance, he would make use of it. Maybe he didn’t know that I wanted him around. Yeah, maybe he just needed to know that I needed him in my life. That was it, he needed me to remind him. But… as my Quince got closer, I had finally come to the conclusion that if my father had really cared, he would’ve sought me out on his own from the very day that we had been separated. It was a rather devastating moment for me, but a necessary one. It gave me the strength to be ok with the fact that my father wanted no part of my life, or anything to do with me. So my father didn’t want me, so what. It just made me appreciate my mother that much more.
Memories of my mother when I was a young child are vague. She worked a lot. And I mean a lot. Different shifts, all sorts of hours. She was never around for our first days of school, and we had very little time with her after school as well. I knew that my mom felt remorse for never being around. She constantly bought us gifts to remind us of how much she loved us. I remember one day coming home from school and finding that she had just bought us the Wizard of Oz vhs. Even though it sounds bad, from all of this, my little brother and I developed a form of independence. We cooked for ourselves, albeit nothing more than sandwiches and ramen noodles, but we did it ourselves nonetheless. And even though our mother did leave us alone, she taught us well. “Don’t answer the door, just run and hide in your rooms. Don’t answer the phone. If you do, take a message and say I’m in the shower.” We knew 911 and all the basics to keep us safe. I was also well aware of extra steps to take should anything else happen. All thanks to my mom for allowing me to watch all the AMW, COPS, and Rescue 911 my little crime-fighting heart desired.
I had all I needed and I was well taken care of, all because of my mother. Sure, she wasn’t a mother worthy of worldly praise. She did leave us alone a lot to work and to do other things, but I’m here aren’t I? I’m living, breathing, writing. I’ve been taught to appreciate family ties more than most people. I’ve been taught how to fend for myself and learn things on my own. I may not have had a life full of Disneyland-esque memories, but I did have friends. I always had support and encouragement. I had my little brother. But most importantly, I always had love. My mother did her best and I appreciate that. I was also thankful for the fact that my mother gave me an opportunity to form my own opinion about my father. She despised him, but did her best to never talk down on him. Not often anyway. She allowed me to discover for myself, what she hoped to keep away from me, that my father was a father of many and yet a father to none. But once I realized this, she was there to wipe up my tears, and give me endless amounts of hugs to let me know that I was loved. And with that said, once that certain day rolls around, I’ll be there with a gift and flowers in hand, embracing my mother and wishing her a well deserved Happy Father’s Day.