Every November it happens. As the leaves turn and fall, I’m forced to think about tromping through the woods with my dad—hunting, cutting wood—the crisp fall air reminding me winter was near. His birthday is in November, too. We never did anything especially spectacular for his birthday, but I always remember nonetheless.
Although he’s on my mind often, November is the time of year I usually try to reach out to him—to find him again. I lost him when I was about 14. All I really want every year for Christmas is my Dad back.
What’s crazy is we both know exactly where the other lives. I have his phone number, or at least an old one. Both of us have Facebook. No matter how many times I reach out to him be it by social media, snail mail, or phone, the outcome is the same. He isn’t interested. He blames his wife for his not being allowed to have me around, and we play a game where we both pretend to believe that’s the truth, at least while we’re on the phone. He ignores any other correspondence from me completely.
I know exactly what went wrong in our relationship. It was a culmination of things from the divorce with my mother, to his new wife, to my being an asshole teenager, to his refusal to be part of my life. We are both in the wrong on some level. I want desperately to right the wrongs I was responsible for, and I want him to do the same. Thing is, he just doesn’t have that desire. Maybe it’s because he heartily believes that he isn’t my real father. Maybe his wife would really make life that difficult. Maybe it’s because I have a relationship with my grandmother (his mother), who he also despises. Or maybe he’s just that full of hate. No matter. The result will likely always be the same: he will forever deny me.
Loving someone so much it rips a whole in your chest to think of them hurts. Sometimes I wish autumn would just go away. The smell of newly fallen leaves is a constant reminder of my dad holding my hand as we hiked through the woods, bending down to whisper in my ear: “Hear that? That’s a squirrel”. Every NFL game is a reminder of us sitting in the recliner together, eating popcorn, rooting for our beloved Cowboys. Each new fallen snow a reminder of making our way across the field following the tracks of the rabbit dogs. All these fond memories that make me smile, yet cry.
All that’s left for me is the wish he’d come to me. Maybe, one day, the leaves will remind him of me, too.