I have my own Father's Day tradition. Every year on this day, I watch Creepshow (1982) and after, I demand, in my best, fresh-from-the-grave voice, a Father's Day cake from Bedelia. That's it. That's my day.
In some ways, I can relate to Bedelia. I dare not call my father. Fuck him! He sucks. I'll think of him on this day, scarcely. Then, I'll move on to the part where I annoy my wife for a cake.
Years ago, in a heated phone conversation, I told my father that I never wanted to speak to him again. I placed him in my rearview and watched him shrink in the distance as I drove forward. Every now and then, I spin on dirt roads, down hollows, in the hidden nooks and crannies of West Virginia. And when I glance back at my dust trail on those gravelly paths, I spot flecks of memories floating in the dust clouds. My father is sitting behind me, cozy, smoking a cigarette in my backseat. His rough hands and hot liquored breath are up against the back of my neck. He whispers cruel words, offering commentary on my body—lobbing insults, ridicule, condemnations, and comments that could only come from the mind of a sick man.
I immediately stop the car and jerk my head around.
He’s not there.
And I’m relieved.
I am happy to exist HERE AND NOW.
My decision to remove my father from my life was not unmerited. There were years of abuse and imbalance that led me to that decision. If you knew him, you would remove him, too.
I carry a portion of my trauma in physical manifestations… my white hair, scars, dimpled fat, and curves. On my worst days, I blame myself, and I fail to see the beauty in me. I struggle with my own generalizations about men. But I have met some fine men who changed my mind, and I feel fortunate to have these incredible guys in my life. They have opened me up to new perceptions.
It comforts me to know that there are men out there who encourage their daughters… men who listen to their children… who respect them… who ask them questions about their life. Men who sincerely want to get to know their kids and love them unconditionally. I salute and praise those men, and if you have one of those father’s in your life, I hope you are able to let them know how much you appreciate them today. I hope you get to spend time with them and tell ‘em you love ‘em.
To all those fathers who try with an open mind and open heart—HAPPY FATHER’S DAY.