Sunday, June 18, 2006
Father's Day
I’ve never sent a Father’s Day card.

I was never the kindergartener drawing thick, shaky, waxy-rainbow letters on cheap construction paper; never an 8-year-old hovering above a block of wood, jar of decoupage and pile of magazine clippings trying to create the perfect Father’s Day collage. I was never an 11-year-old placing a handpicked treasure from the tie rack upon the gift-wrap counter at J.C. Penny’s. I’ve never poured through Hallmark’s seasonal section, looking for the perfect prose to express gratitude for my childhood.

I remember the projects. I remember the look of pity from teachers as they coaxed me through an “alternative” project. I remember being the only child-of-divorce in my classroom and how the absence of a father in my life was easy fodder for teasing. I recall a sense of deep shame about the secret I kept from my classmates. I was screwed up, but not stupid. I wasn’t about to tell them the father whose absence they teased about wasn’t really my father and that my real father had never even seen my face.

So, I’ve never sent a father’s day card or wrapped a handmade gift in delicate tissue paper, sealing it up with awkward chunks of shiny scotch tape. For me, those childhood rituals went the way of father/daughter dances and games of catch in the front yard. Like having a strong shoulder to cry on upon my first heartbreak, a fierce protector when I felt threatened, or a stern, loving voice when I needed reeling in, these things have never been part of my experience. But, I coveted them. And, at the age of 38, sometimes still do.

I would love to be able to say: “Today is just another day.” But, if that were true, it wouldn’t occur to me proclaim it so. I’ve learned it is better for me to steer into the empty places in my life than to try to fill them with replacements or distractions.

I have a father. I need only to hold the dozen or so photographs of him to know this with certainty. I have his face: his crooked smile, blue eyes, dimpled cheek and slightly weak chin. But that is as close as the two of us, father and daughter, will ever be: a pile of photographs and an unrealized dream.
Related Posts from the Past: Relinquishing Renee, Ghosts of my Fathers, The Box
Rhonda Ruminated at 11:03 AM | Permalink |

11 Ruminations:

  • At 11:34 AM, Anonymous Charlie

    Please accept a hug and a kiss on this Father's Day, from a fellow who had an unrealized dream of having a daughter like you.

  • At 12:09 PM, Blogger Rhonda

    :::sniff::: Thank you, Charlie.

  • At 8:39 PM, Blogger 34quinn


    Your words I understand so much. The circumstances slightly differ but the feelings are strikingly the same.

    I did not know my birth father until in my 20's and then for only 5 years.

    As a child the man who was my adoptive father was present, unlike yours but he was no father to me( abuse) I so understand how you feel about the making of cards and giving of a gift..although........
    I do not know which is worse....that you would have liked to give it to him but he was not there or having to partake of this ritual to give to a man that I wished was NOT there.!!!

    All those things you talk about in your post you are not feeling alone..I feel them all along with you. All I have of my birth father are photos and some memories ( I am happy for this) but I will never know that father/daughter thing.

    ((HUGS)) to you!!!!!!!!!!!

  • At 11:32 PM, Blogger Rhonda

    QUINN: Having had an abusive adoptive father, however briefly, I understand where you are coming from and am sorry it was also your experience. And, I thank you for understanding my feelings about my birthfather. After reading about yours, I figured you would, as I have related to many of the things you write about on your blog.

  • At 6:10 AM, Blogger BloggingMone

    I can understand your feelings as much as it is possible for someone who is not actually sharing that experience. But still I felt I had to comment on this just to say thank you for writing this post as it reminds those having a nice and caring Dad, like me, that this isn't something anyone should take for granted, but something one should be very grateful for. Not just on Father's day...

  • At 8:31 AM, Blogger Nikki


  • At 8:47 AM, Blogger Mia

    This Father's Day I called my Dad but he was barely present. It got me to thinking that he has always been barely present, he just has a more palatable excuse now.

    I thought about my birth father too and whether or not I will ever have the opportunity to meet him. I wonder if he knows about me. If he somehow senses my presence in in the deep recesses of his mind.

    It IS interesting the level of importance the "ghosts of our fathers" play in our lives.


  • At 10:46 AM, Blogger frankengirl

    Such a moving and lovely essay, Rhonda, reaching beyond the dad-less. Even those of us who have one handy, often have "dreams" of a dad. Or as Mia writes so poignantly - ghosts of one.

    "I’ve learned it is better for me to steer into the empty places in my life than to try to fill them with replacements or distractions."

    This is so insightful! And something I must learn to do right now - :)

  • At 12:48 PM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite

    I'm sorry for you and moved to tears. I hope that one day you encounter someone - a father figure of the best sort - who fills those empty places just a little.

  • At 10:26 AM, Blogger Rhonda

    BLOGGINGMONE: Thank you for your insight. I hesitated writing a "downer post" at a time when most people are celebrating, so am relieved to learn that, even for those who had wonderful fathers, it carried a message.

    FANKENGIRL: I think you are right; that one can still grapple with fantasies of the perfect parent, even when a parent is present in one's life. I've certainly learned that lesson with my adoptive mother.

    RUTH: Thank you for both the tears and empathy.

  • At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Beki

    Very moving essay Rhonda.

    I was in a similar position in that I was brought up solely by by my Mum. I have to say my schools were always very supportive when I was younger and much of it went whoosh over my headas they made it as comfortable as possible, especially when other children asked questions.

    I am perhaps able to marry the situation in my head as he made a very clearcut decision before my birth not to be involved and there has been no contact at all. I do of course think he is a pillock for missing out as I am marvellous to know ;o)