I was raised by a single mom-hardest job in the world but that's for another post. Father's Day in a word, sucked. It was my own personal reminder that my father didn't want me. He left before I was born and every year when Father's Day came around I felt like everyone was watching me...like I was wearing some sort of bastard scarlet letter. Growing up in northern Minnesota, Father's Day was usually just the week or two after school got out so more often than not, the last weeks of school were filled with crafts and cards for Dad. I would make the little gifts, knowing all the while that it would go to my mom (who fully deserved them) or to my Grandfather. It's just not the same. Now, with the benefit of adult wisdom (feel free to laugh at that) or more accurately, 27 years of hindsight, I know that my life was better without my biological father. I met him, Terry H, when I was 19, only 6 months after my mother married my step-dad, Terry R. Yup, both named Terry...apparently she has very specific preferences-actually, she didn't even realize the coincidence until I pointed it out one day. To keep things clear, I generally refer to them as Terry (meaning my step-dad) and bio-Terry (met him second and for much of my life he was a bio-hazard).
For years, I was totally confused as to how I'm supposed to celebrate Father's Day. Things with my step-dad are cordial because I know my mother loves him but I was in college when they got married and he has three kids of his own-all younger than me. Plus, he and I are both loud and stubborn but we're loud and stubborn about very different things. Other than loving my mom, we don't have much in common. As for bio-Terry, when we first connected, I made the decision to forgive him. I knew I couldn't live with hate but then as time progressed, I realized I had decided to forgive a man who had never apologized. It came to a head after the boy was born. I strongly believe in the benefit of having actively involved loving grandparents so I reached out again and to his credit, bio-Terry responded. But, after a visit for his birthday and seeing my 40-something first cousins (they're Irish Catholic) and all the pictures of my father who was there with all of them for every Kindergarten Graduation and birthday party, I left feeling like I had been punched in the stomach. To add insult to injury, at one point, bio-Terry had the nerve to tell me that he didn't hold anything against my mother. Yup, the man who admitted leaving my mother when she was pregnant with me and who didn't even tell his family that I existed until I found him, didn't hold anything against my mother who often worked two jobs to support us. I was furious and as immature as it may be, all I wanted was an apology. Some recognition of the pain his absence caused. So, I avoided him, his calls, his letters. That's my coping technique. I run. Like I said, immature. The worst part is that I love his family. They're hilarious. They're the type of family I dreamed about as a child...big and close. They get together almost every week in the summer for BBQs and pool parties. But it hurts too much to be one foot in that world and one foot out.