Fun fact: The popular tv show The Walking Dead is actually based on my father’s life. That’s not really true. The show is about typical zombies. My father was actually an inverted zombie: dead on the inside, alive on the outside.
I will now tell you all the warm fatherly feelings that I can remember:
When I was 6, I remember my dad teaching me how to ride a two wheeled bike. It was fun. He ran behind me and then promised to hold on and let go.
When I was 8 or 9 years old we went downhill skiing with a few other families. I remember being scared of the chairlift (of course, because it’s freaky). One of my parent’s friends, Ira, encouraged me gently to try it with him. Ira told me how to get on and off the lift and kept his arm around me the whole time so I’d feel safe. I felt really safe riding with him. Wait- he wasn’t my dad.
Around the same age, I used to spend a ton of time with my neighbor friend, Laura. Her parents weren’t particularly nice to me or to her so I felt really comfortable there. In the winter, sometimes her dad would take us tobogganing to a special hill that we had to drive to. I felt pretty special that I got to go with. Wait- he wasn’t my dad either.
For my 15th birthday, I woke up in the morning and my dad had already gone to work but he’d left a birthday card that he made himself on the computer for me. He also bought me a special birthday gift just from him. (It was a box of yellow highlighters and a pack of colorful bic pens.) This was the most meaningful and personal gift he had ever given me.
When I got my Grade 10 midterm report card, my dad gave me a sideways hug and air kissed my head and said “you know we are very proud of you.”. He also gave me a hug the night before my wedding and told me that he’d miss me.
I know that lots of people grow up without a father in their homes or their lives, or with a father who was abusive or incapable of keeping them physically safe. I’m fortunate that I didn’t have those problems.
My problem was that I had a father who I saw in my home every single day. But he always acted like he believed that he was invisible. Or maybe he thought I was invisible. Either way, he was pretty convincing.
Papa, can you hear me?
Papa, can you see me?