Father’s Day (Part 2)
By Lori Freeland –
My hands shake. I lean against the bedroom wall, the phone pressed against my ear. Tears stream down my cheeks. I hate Father’s Day. Once a year, my heart is ripped out, leaving a hole that takes weeks to bandage. Why am I calling my dad today of all days? The last time we talked, it didn’t go so well. That was two years ago.The phone stops ringing. “This is Tom.”
I panic. Go to hang up. Change my mind. How can I still miss him so much? I want to curl up in his lap. But I can’t.
“Daddy?” My voice shakes. I struggle to breathe “Kyle’s so sick. He’s not getting better. The chemo is killing him…Daddy, I don’t know what to do…”
Then his voice, hoarse and unsteady, comes across the line. “I’ll be there in three hours.”
“Okay,” I whisper back. The line clicks. I close my phone and slowly slide down the wall into a puddle on the carpet.
“Lord, I’m so tired of all this pain. I can’t do this anymore. Please fix this,” I beg.
The memory our last Father’s Day together grabs me. Pulls me back into our kitchen where my dad is flipping pancakes, a look of granite on his face. I can smell the fresh batter. Nausea comes in waves—I am there all over again.
Then, an odd thing happens. My dad says the words he said before, but as he’s talking, he slowly transforms into a small boy. His angry, impenitent voice lowers. The hurtful words begin to change.
“I’m lonely,” the little boy says. “I want to be loved for who I am.” His eyes, glossy with unshed tears, pierce mine. “I’m hurting… I don’t know what to do.”
Taken back, I push off my bedroom carpet and open my eyes. I want to put my arms around that little boy. My dad desperately wants to be loved. This I can understand. The bitterness and anger, buried deep inside my soul, loosens just the tiniest bit. No matter what he did, I love my dad, and I need to tell him.
Father’s Day 2006. Madison, WI. I am 36.
My dad and I sit at Perkins, sipping coffee. Our booth is hidden behind frosted glass. Glad for the privacy, I gear up to say the words I’ve prepared. Last year when he came for Kyle, I didn’t tell him about the little boy I saw the day I called him sobbing. Will he understand if I tell him now? I need him to understand—it is our bridge to restoration.
“I’m glad you spent the weekend, even if it was because your truck wouldn’t start.” He comes every few months to visit, but never stays longer than a day, and I covet the hours that we have together.
He nods, moves his hand to cover mine. “It’s been a better year,” he begins. “Kyle’s doing better and,” he pauses, his eyes catch mine, “there’s you and I.”
I rest my other hand on his and squeeze. “Dad…I’m sorry for all the awful things I said to you the day you left. And after. I was angry and hurt. I didn’t mean those things…” my voice breaks.
His eyes grow shiny. He pulls his hand from mine to blow his nose with the napkin from the table. “I love you, and I’ll always be your Dad… I’m sorry too.”
He wipes his eyes. “If I could do it all again….” His voice drops. “If I could take it back, I would. It wasn’t worth it.”
Words I never thought I would hear. Words I longed to hear. The ache in my heart is healing. Sometimes it’s hard to believe my dad is back in my life. And while we can never go back, we can move forward.
Forget Him Day is once again Father’s Day. I reach under my coat and hand my dad a brightly wrapped box. “Happy Father’s Day, Dad.”
This is a power tool day, and I am grateful.
Lori Freeland is a freelance writer, homeschool teacher, and mother of three. She holds a BA degree from the University of Wisconsin Madison in psychology. Having recently survived a journey through childhood cancer with her oldest son, she has a heart for writing to share her experiences and insight to those walking their own journey through crisis.