Sunday, June 18, 2006

Father's Day Blues

Three Weeks After Connecting With Birth Mother & Family:

It is Father’s Day. The day we honor the man who raised us. This Sunday brings its special challenges. My adoptive father calls my husband at 6:45 a.m. to wish him well. This is new. Not the calling, but the hour he phones. Before dementia, he never would have done such a thing. What is not new is that as soon as the obligatory "Happy Father’s Day" is uttered, he immediately moves on to more important matters. Himself.

Him. Him. Him. Every day is Father’s Day in his world. A world in which his only daughter listens and nods and reassures and promises to make that phone call to fix things. The problem, this year, is that he suffers even more greatly by comparison to my birth mother and family.

Comparisons are impossible to avoid. A whining father, with the social skills of a kindergartner, is going to look and sound even worse after talking with a calm, reflective, no-nonsense birth mother. Did I say regret is a non-productive emotion? It is. Yet, it’s my companion on this Father’s Day. Regret threatening to slide into anger. At whom? My birth mother for failing to hold on despite her awful circumstances way back then? A new target is beginning to emerge, like prey in the mist. The system. The social worker. Whichever brilliant person who interviewed my father and didn’t see what everybody else has always seen...an extremely odd man who presents himself to the world as a Walking Talking Living Example of the Narcissistic Wound. My adoptive father is old and sick.

How terrible to feel resentment instead of sympathy. Frustration instead of love. Anxiety instead of patience. And the guilt. Guilt that I have never loved my adoptive father. Guilt that I’ve always wanted to escape. Guilt that I should at least be grateful. There is no well-spring of fond memories to tap. The well is dry. Has always been dry.

And on this Father’s Day, what of my birth father? My birth mother says she can’t remember his last name although she knew him for about a year. This man she says I so much resembled at my birth, whose features and hair color were his. Is this possible? She talks about him willingly enough, but his last name is elusive. My birth mother is elderly. Maybe she can’t remember. Maybe she doesn’t want to.

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