My childhood was spent pining for a father who lived thousands of miles away.
The horror stories my mother told frightened me. Though I was too young to remember, the images ingrained in my head were probably much worse that the reality – his hand going through the glass door in a fit of anger, a lamp being thrown at me as I lay in my crib, alcohol, threats of violence, and fear.
My mother ran and took me with her.
Even in my sleep, If she touched me I would recoil. She sent my father away and I hated her for it.
He ran too, far from my mother and far from me .There was no forwarding address or telephone number. Visits were few and far between.
Twice a year, I was almost guaranteed a card and a ten dollar bill. I scoured the mail, looking for his perfect bubbly script. I would trace it with my fingernail, wanting to be close to anything he touched. With the envelope touching my lips, I would breathe in. Maybe, I could inhale a bit of his spirit. If I closed my eyes, I could smell his cologne and pipe tobacco. When it was quiet, I would hear his voice calling me "baby."
What type of man doesn't fight for his child? No matter what was said or done, a father has a responsibility far beyond the financial aspect.
No obstacle, not even the thought of facing your ex wife, should be greater than a father's love for his child.
Was I on his mind when he went to sleep at night? Did he realize all he was missing out on? He wasn't there for skinned knees and chicken pox, homework and birthday parties, graduations and celebrations.
One day, I was given a phone number, an address, and an invitation. It was one of the best week ever. There was sightseeing, a trip to the mall, and chores around the house. I was the typical teen, sitting on his couch, watching MTV. For a week, I had a father. It was almost as if I belonged there, but I never saw that house again.
I didn't believe another man would ever love me. If my own father didn't value me, why would anyone else?
Every event turned into a disappointment. With no real expectations of him actually showing up, I would search the crowd for his face.
He passed away almost exactly a month before my wedding day. In a way, his death saved me the letdown on that most important day.
My fears were unfounded. I married a man who not only cherishes me, but is an amazing father to his children.
The third Sunday of June never really held any sort of significance for me. Father's Day was just a reminder, of what I didn't have. Now, I know that Father's Day is so much more than a card and a tie.
I can see, through the eyes of my children, what a father's love looks like.