Month 3, Day 19

When my father was around he did stuff with us and then he was just gone. I don’t remember the last time I saw him before I found out he was dead. I might have been 13. He showed up for a bit and then was gone again. I only remember it being weird that he was around. The next time I remember hearing from him was getting a letter out of the blue when I was 30. It was when Anna and I were expecting our first son Xavier. It was just weird again. Hearing from my father while I was right in the middle of trying to understand what being a father was. I wasn’t sure what to do with that letter. He said he’d been sick, that he had almost died and that he thought he would never see us again. I read it and put it in a box. I never sent a reply. I had no idea what to say. Not long after my mother told me she saw an obituary online. The entire thing only felt like a sad story to me. I didn’t feel any sense of loss because I had only been living with memories for so long. I don’t even own a picture of him. I only kind of remember what he looked like. Sometimes I see men on the street and I think they kind of remind me of him but I’m not sure. I wonder if I’m like him and if that would be a good or a bad thing. I never knew him enough to know. Not as an adult. Not as a man. I only remember being a kid and doing things with him cooking things, building things, shooting things, going places, hanging around his weird friends. He used to take me up on rooftops when he was a roofer while they splashed around molten hot tar with mops. He used to make us do Tai Chi in the park downtown. He paid me to memorize recipes, including the lists of ingredients and then shop and cook what I had memorized. He showed me how to build go-carts out of trash. He taught me how to strip and rewire power tools. He gave us bb guns and taught us to shoot tomato worms. Once I saw a fly land on the edge of the fence around our garden. I had a Daisy air rifle that you had to cock a few times to build up the pressure before you could shoot. In my head, it was all Tom and Jerry cartoons. I didn’t think it was actually possible but I also didn’t know enough to think that it wasn’t. I set my sites, pulled the trigger and pop. The fly went down. I was in shock. I ran to see if I could find it and there it was, still alive, legs kicking but pinned by the weight of a perfectly round tiny metal ball embedded in its eye. I still think about that. It reminds that crazy impossible things can happen if you try. I think about how old I must have been and realize that most if not all of those memories happened before I was 11 or 12 and then nothing. It was like I had lived one entirely different life and then another, but I know that first life still defines me in many ways. Working on these pieces in this 12 Month series I’m looking back and really digging into these moments in my life that defined me in some way and I'm trying to understand them or at least sort them out. Things that shaped the way I think or feel or see the world and now realizing that my father defined a lot of that. I mostly only feel compassion for his flaws. I don’t think I’ve ever felt bitter or angry that he wasn’t around or wondered why he left. I do wonder what it would have been like if he had he been around. I do wonder about that. I also find myself surprisingly thankful for what I did have with him, so yeah it's fathers day.