Dad

Today, I found out through my cousin that my dad is being put in an institution by the VA. Apparently he has dementia. We have been estranged for several years. When I got that news, I cried for the first time I can remember about anything having to do with my dad.

Dad, you left me when I was 9 months old because you couldn’t stay clean and sober and my mom had had enough. You visited every once in a while after that. I talked to you on the phone when I was eight, and your voice was calm and soft and I knew why you had been known as a charmer.

When you were thirteen, you suffered a head injury that required surgery and you never really recovered. Your brother Doug told me that before the accident, you were energetic and into sports. After that, you became withdrawn and thoughtful. You retreated into your intellect. I would have too.

You were a writer. You wrote me many, many letters about things I couldn’t understand while you were high or drunk. I pictured you in some candlelit room in a state of euphoria, thinking of Athena or the best ways to fight for cannabis legalization. I was flattered that you thought of me enough to write letters. But you never paid child support.

I think you never felt like a man. I have gone through my life with the fear I am too fragile for this world and it helps me understand your fear of standing up to your full height. This is a very scary place, and some people knocked down too early never find courage to get up again.

Thank you for trying. Thank you for opening my heart. Thank you for being my dad.

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