It’s Father’s Day. And you’re not here, but I’m not unhappy that you’ve passed. No, it isn’t because you were an abusive or deadbeat father. None of that. In fact you were outstanding in your lovingness, loyalty, devotion, and care. You were there at the very beginning, as the doctor who delivered me.
In one way I am “glad” that you are not here because of the relationship that I have finally formed with mom since you’ve been gone. You were an outstanding father in many ways, worked above and beyond the call of duty. However the dysfunction between you and mom made it such that you two were a tag team, and at times a Teflon monolith of parental authority that could not be knocked down. The poignant secret of this tight union was finally revealed to me last year by Mom. If you were still here I wouldn’t know about the lynchpin of your relationship, and therefore would remain in a cloud of childhood resentment and filial confusion.
You spoiled me by presenting a model of devotion that one finds only in epic romance stories. I thought you were normal, didn’t realize you were exceptional. In public you and Mom never disagreed. Your minds worked like a science fiction TV show Borg, and so I thought this was how all solid couples acted. The attachment of mom to you made her power greater, but not because she was her own person. After you died Mom’s mind–as well as her heart–was cleaved in two. She fought long and hard to re-energize and re-educate herself. Her frequent talks to your spirit kept her going.
What sustains me is our family’s Buddhist beliefs. We are cultural Buddhists, do not worship explicitly, but hold the basic beliefs in karma and reincarnation. I know for a fact we will be reunited again. It doesn’t matter when this reunion will happen because you are already a presence in my life, even while you exist in spirit form. It’s been validated that you are one of my “guiding angels” because nobody else in my life has a name similar to the sound the psychic uttered when she found you in the room with us.
Mom and I work well now. It’s because of the accomplishments that she and I have made separately: she as a widow; I as a daughter, mother, and wife; both of us collectively as women who’ve evolved. Your lack of physical presence has allowed this room to grow. The removal of a patriarchal framework has set both of us free from certain chains. These chains were not ones that you consciously used to bind us; they were inherited legacies because of our patrilineal culture and our own very sexist–sometimes misogynistic– clan values.
We still feel you, still talk to you from time to time–mom is the more active communicator for obvious reasons–and miss many things about you. I see you in my kids, and know that I am very much your daughter.
By the way, the biggest accomplishment between Mom and me? We end each phone call with “I love you.”
Your Loving Daughter,