“She doesn’t have a father”, my husband responded when asked about our family back home in India pointing to me.
Not : “Her father passed away years ago”
Not: ” Her father is no more”
Not: “She lost her father ..years ago”
– that the father is unknown…
– the father abdicated his paternal responsibilities…
– I’m a divine child – the next Jesus ..female at that…
– that I was cloned from a single cell in a test tube…
None of the above fit the circumstances of my paternity though…so I wondered about his interesting choice of words. Grammar faux pas? or a subliminal dismissal of the most important man in my life? I gave him the benefit of doubt and dismissed those words as a grammar faux pas.
The words do not leave my brain though..pushing aside all other thoughts to whatever dark corners thoughts can be pushed…those words are echoing across the empty hallways of neurons.. bouncing on every raw nerve. So I had to write this post to exorcise those words out of mind….and set the record straight in case someone still thinks : “She doesn’t have a father”
I had a father, who was alive, until I was 25 years old. A father who was married to my mother years before I was conceived. A father , who made a beautiful nest of a home with my mother, caring for his children, worrying about our future, joking with us, working hard to provide for us and loving us with a gentle ferocity that I still feel very acutely to this day. Above all that he was a good human being with a lot of empathy for people.
Then he died at the young age of 52. His failed organs and body was burned …the ashes that were once his body were dissolved in the ocean. His body is no more. That fact does not negate a 25 year solid paternal relationship that serves as an anchor in my own parenting journey.
– I had an amazing and meaningful relationship with my father while he was alive on this earth. He was always there for me in every way.
– I have a very spiritual relationship with him now, that cannot be described in mere words. In essence: I have a father!
– I am very fortunate to have him as my father.
– I am proud of my father
– I don’t need anyone’s sympathy. I’ll take empathy any day.
– I will not tolerate people who treat me as an inferior just because their father’s body is still eating and shitting or functioned until old age and my father’s body did not. This last point is for those people who expect me to feel “inferior” because I have no patriarch to ‘protect’ me.
I spent a lot of quality time with my father and we had several meaningful conversations over the 25 years. I have witnessed first-hand how he handled his life’s lows and challenges. There were times I questioned his actions and he patiently explained his rationale ….his perspective. I got to know him as a human …his values, his motivations, his fears and his deepest hurts. At the time of his death, we had no unresolved issues between us. He knew how much I loved him and I knew how much he loved me….or so I thought until I had my own children and I keep discovering how much more he had loved my brother and me.
I was angry at first , towards whatever greater power there is, for taking him away from me. But over the years finding out more about the world ..the type of fathers there are out there …and the various degrees of dysfunction possible in a father-child relationship , I have come to realize how lucky I am and I’m grateful for the time I had with him on earth.
I am not ashamed of my father’s frail health because he didn’t cause it. He did the best with what was given to him at birth. My father did not abuse his body with alcohol, smoking or drugs or even excessive food. He continued to work even after his kidney transplant and stopped only when his company forced him to take voluntary retirement. He was still looking to be productive and set up a small business refusing to accept my monetary support.
More than his failing organs, not being useful and productive and feeling like a burden was what killed him in the end. That’s who my father was and always wanted to be: an eternal provider – only wanting to give, give and give to his children and never ever be in a position to take- A rare farmer who believed that he has no right to eat the fruits of a tree he lovingly planted, watered and nurtured.
So , all, I have a father, whose soul is expansive enough to be there for us beyond death and my father will remain not just as my last name but his life and love will always be the prologue to all my life’s chapters …until …someone says ,pointing at me, “She doesn’t have a ‘she’ “* .