“Father’s Day”

“Yeah, I do think about him sometimes,” Zach answered the question.

“You do?” I blinked, shocked.

I had spent the whole day obsessing on whether or not to write Joe’s aunt now that I had her email address. Which was silly, I had his grandparents’ address and could look up their phone number on the internet any time…but there was something much more immediate about email.  It was there, stored in my email address book now, the ability to instantly reach out to a member of my son’s biological family.

After the kids got home and we went through the daily grind of afterschool activities, I found myself coming back to it, over and over.  After the kids were all upstairs and in bed that evening, I sat down in the darkened kitchen and started typing away at my computer.  I wrote a blog entry about my son and how wonderful he was despite all of what we’d been through during his early life.  I talked about how he excelled in playing his trombone (his biological father had played a mean trumpet), about how he was smart and quiet and determined, so much of what I had seen in the time I’d known his father.  I pressed a button and the web page was public for anyone to see.  And then I put the link to it in a short email addressed to Joe’s aunt, telling her that her sister might want to read about what an amazing grandson she had.

I had been unprepared for the email that was waiting for me when I checked my email the next morning. My son’s biological aunt scolded me for my commentary about her sister, and told me that I’d made my own choices in my life and I couldn’t blame anyone in her family with how those choices had panned out.  She was right of course, in the harshest of terms, in that I had said I hadn’t expected anything from Joe when we’d split up.  If I’d meant it, I shouldn’t be sending maudlin emails fifteen years later wondering why the family wasn’t concerned with how everything had all shaken out.  Still, I was embarrassed and angry with her response.  I wrote her one line of commentary in return, thanking her for her candor and wishing her well.

To my surprise, Pat’s email address popped up in my box a few hours later.  She offered to communicate with Zach directly (the unwritten implication was that I should not be contacting her again, I supposed) if he was interested in knowing things about her family.  She stated clearly that the request needed to come from him, and that I couldn’t be involved.  I was a bit put off by her response, but also a bit shamed in that I had allowed myself to become emotionally involved in the back and forth in the first place.  While obviously I had cared for Joe and had missed him for years after our breakup, it could not be my feelings that guided my reactions from now on.  I had to do what was best for Zachary, and his well being.   I had always subscribed to the belief that with an absent parent, the present parent must always stay positive.  I couldn’t let Zach see how sad the whole situation still made me, even after all of these years.  His reaction would be guided by my own, and I had to keep myself steady and even.

“Sure I do,” Zach answered.  “I mean, it’s just always there, this thing that is missing, unresolved, the thing that makes me different from everyone else.”

I sighed.  “I guess that makes sense.  I missed my dad when I was your age, and I had met him, knew him, but he was spending less and less time with us.  I guess no matter what, something as basic as a parent is always a part of you.”

Z nodded.  He wasn’t upset, or melancholy.  He was simply having a conversation.  “Why did you bring this up now?”

“Well,” I started, and told him how I’d found his aunt on the internet, and how she had agreed to email with him, if he wished.  I could see him taking the nugget of information in, and turning it over and over in his brain, contemplating it.

“I’ll think about it,” he answered.  “I mean, I’ll take her email if you give it to me, but I don’t know if I’ll write her or not.  But it’s nice to now I could, if I wanted to.”

I reached out to hug my son, and he reached back in the awkward way of a fifteen year old boy that is nearly a man.  I wasn’t sure what I hoped he would do, honestly.  But at least now he had something of that part of who he was.  Something was better than nothing.

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One Response

  1. […]  He was referring to his biological father’s aunt, really his biological great aunt.  The one I’d searched for in a fit of insecurity and mid life crisis feeling two years ago.  The one who had rebuffed my outreach to her but had offered to communicate with […]

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