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Empty Finalé

August 19, 2018

When someone dies there is something so final about it.

As a Christian I have the great hope and faith of seeing my brothers and sisters in Christ again one day. And yet, there is still something so final about death.

Today I found out that my biological father passed away.

The normal reaction to hearing that your dad passes away is shock, tears, grief and the like. But the only thing I sort of even felt was shock– but not in it’s fullest version.

I never knew him.

My tear ducts would not activate. My emotions would not emerge.

Across the table my friend looked at me, “How do you feel?”

“I….actually… have no idea.”

The story goes something like this…

I had to visit him when I was little until about age six when he gave up custody and then the last time I saw him was the day after my mom’s funeral. He came by to say sorry or something like that.

Fast forward eleven years.

Sound asleep. Adjusting to my new life in Korea, living in an officetell that always remained damp, dark and the only view was the back of another building, I found myself startling awake to the sound of my landline ringing. Who has landlines anymore? Well it was only 2008, so people still did. But in Korea!? Who could possibly be calling me? I’m not sure I even knew this phone number!

I gave the person on the other end of the phone a groggy, “Hello?”

“Hi, Dyanne. It’s your dad. Perry.”

Long pause.

“Oh, um, hi? How did you get this number? I mean hi how are you?”

It was one of the strangest conversations I have ever had in my life.

It was cordial. But nothing more than that.

He had obtained the phone number from my grandma and felt led to call me after he inherited some money. He told me he wanted to give me half when it came through.

I never saw the money. I never heard from him again.

A vanishing whisper of a moment. I did not hold his words too tightly and I am thankful  that I had not.

He probably told me that he loved me and was proud of me. Maybe. I honestly don’t remember. That’s how much weight his words carried. We had literally NO relationship. And the money? I mean it was a nice gesture but an empty one at that.

I honestly could care less about the money. It was more of the relationship that would have carried weight in my life– had it been there.

Growing up, I referred to him as the “sperm donor.” He was not my father. Being a father implies action and relationship. Neither of which existed.

Whether it was his own brokenness or sin or both, he never truly reached out. He never truly built a relationship with me.

By the time I was old enough and could have made more effort to contact him and connect with him, I honestly did not want to. I mean, why reach out to someone who clearly wants nothing to do with you? Why put yourself through the pain? Especially with someone who has never had a relationship with you?

I thought long and hard about whether I had regrets. In the end, it’s not I who should have regrets, but him. Whether he did or not, I will never know and that’s perfectly okay. I mean, as okay as it can be. Really, none of it is okay. It is what it is.

I am sad that he died so young. That he was sick for a long time. I am sad that he never experienced the joy of being selfless and loving his own blood. I am sad that he never seemed to grow up beyond his “bachelor years” so-to-speak. I am sad that there was and never will be a relationship between us.

The only memories stored away in my collection consist of feeling unsafe and unsure of what was happening.

“Why do I have to call him ‘Daddy Perry?'” my little brain would question. He’s not my dad.

———-

Why do I have to ride on the back of this motorcycle with this man who says he is my dad?

———-

“Pull my finger.” So I did and he farted. I couldn’t laugh. My child mind couldn’t understand why he thought that would be the thing to do in order to connect with me. Perhaps I would have laughed had I felt emotionally safe with this man.

———-

By the time I had my third in-grown toenail, I insisted on calling this biological father to find out if I had inherited them from him. Classic move of a curious third grader. So I did, “Hi. I want to know. Do you have in-grown toenails? Because I have horrible ones!” Such a strange thing to want to know, but I really wanted to know at the time. I suppose I wanted to blame him for them. But he didn’t.

———-

I stood there as the balloon drifted up and out of reach. My eyes getting bigger. And sadder. With on last attempt, I gave a short, six-year-old sized jump, reaching for it. But it slipped away. Big tears filled my eyes.

He didn’t know what to do. We went back to the balloon stand and he bought me another one. This time he tied it around my wrist.

Or, is that how I like to remember it? Did he buy me another balloon?

———-

And just like that balloon, this fragile fetus-like relationship, drifted out of reach and slipped away before it ever grew and took shape into something of real meaning and value.

So today, when I was informed of his death, I had very few emotions or memories to draw from. 

It felt empty. It felt final. 

It was an empty finalé. 

 


Here is a previous post I made in 2008 after our phone call.

 

 

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