Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My Father

(I'm using some " writing prompts" on occasion this year, to try to keep myself writing on a more regular basis. Today's prompt is "If you could switch places with anyone in the world for 24 hrs., who would you want to be?)

I've been thinking about this one for a while now, and I've had several answers pass through my mind, but none of them seemed really satisfactory. In one case, I wouldn't be happy with just 24 hours, and in another 24 hours might be too long. But, I think I finally came up with an answer, even though it would require just a tiny bit of time travel. :)

If I could change places with anyone for 24 hours, I would want to go back about 15 years and change places with my father. The reason? I'd love to know what was going on in his mind at that point in time, to understand why my family and I moving out of town made him treat us as though we'd never existed. I'd like to know how he could just walk away from his only grandchildren, the youngest of whom doesn't even remember him now, and the other two who probably wouldn't recognize him--or he them--if they ran into each other on the street. (And he now has a great-grandson he doesn't know anything about and will never get to meet.) I was "Daddy's little girl" from the time I was born...and even after my parents divorced, I was the child who worked at keeping that relationship alive, in spite of opposition from my mother.

And this loss of contact was all a one-sided decision. After we moved, I wrote letters to keep him informed on what was going on with all of us, and I tried to call him on many different occasions. My letters went unanswered, and my calls went unreturned. Eventually I gave up, and now he gets a Christmas card every year...and I get a card in return, with a check enclosed. Three years ago, his card didn't come, and I wondered if that meant what I fear the most...but the following year it came again, and I breathed a sigh of relief. But I learned recently that he had a stroke in the past, which probably explains that missing year, and it breaks my heart that NO ONE near him thought to contact me to let me know...not his wife, not any of her children...apparently they've all written us out of the family.

So, I have to wonder now if, when that day comes that I lose him forever, I'll get the news from my mother, when SHE reads about it in the local newspaper. And then I wonder how I'll handle the situation...will I go to say goodbye, and feel ignored and unwelcome, or will I stay away and feel forgotten and betrayed? Only time will tell!

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