A poet I admire once told me that writer’s block happens when you’re avoiding the truth. There’s a thing inside of you that you have to get out and eventually, all of your senses will freeze until you’re willing to face what it is you’ve been avoiding. Unblock your heart, mind, and soul to unblock your writing. So this is that.
Commentary About Making Peace with your Father when he Never Made Peace with you
I struggled to cope with rejection without explanation. I can handle rejection when I didn’t earn anything. But to be pushed aside with no excuse… That’s intolerable! A layoff without notice or a romantic interest that ghosts. Even the annoying misfortune of misplacing something only to never find it again. It can drive me a little mad.
At some point however, it started to click. Maybe I’m not owed an explanation when changes arise. Maybe I get to come to my own conclusion when the concluder isn’t willing to clarify. If they get to be stubborn in holding on to their decisions then maybe I can be selfish in how much energy I put into caring about it all. I suppose this very thinking is what will give me peace about my father’s death.
On March 5th 2020, my father passed away from a heart attack. He was 61 years old and I hadn’t seen him in roughly 10 years. The majority of the interactions with my father, I was angry at him. Angry because he didn’t come to the hospital when my brother was having kidney failure, angry that he drove six hours from SC to VA and didn’t come visit his sick daughter and grandson in the hospital. Angry that I saw him only a few times in my whole life. Angry that the moment I learned he had died, I crawled into a ball and cried.
The next day, I lit a candle for him and did so for the next three days. I started to refer to him as “dad” instead of “father” in conversation. It brought me comfort to honor him in some way. I began to hear stories about him from the people in his life; about how he wanted to reconnect, had gotten saved real good, and was living with enough regrets to make a heart stop. But as I sat at his funeral, taking the six hour ride to see him that he never took for me, I couldn’t help but wonder exactly how I was going to make peace with a man I owed my life to but who never cared to be in it. I had no answers. All I knew was that my dad had spent limited time in my life by choice and now, the time was up.
My father’s death brought a lot of regret to the surface but not more anger. I had long ago decided that I understood my father better than he knew and had come up with a conclusion where the concluder wasn’t willing to clarify. I had decided that my father was scared. He was a black man in America who was reared in misogyny and toxicity. He participated in the creation of three children. A feisty princess and two fragile princes. He wasn’t a King though, not yet. How was he supposed to raise royalty when his life had been that of a jester. That’s who I decided my father was. So, when I saw him in that casket, I felt sorry for him. That he didn’t come to learn that his children loved art and creativity as much as he did. That he died not knowing what our laughter sounded like or what causes we were passionate about. That my father is barely a footnote in my life’s story. How unfortunate for him.
I get no explanation ever about why my father rejected me. I also know that if you ask his family or his friends, they’ll say he didn’t. I only have my side of the story. I make peace with the fact that there will forever be unknowing.
A while ago, I wrote my father a letter offering forgiveness. Part of me thought maybe I’d die and it’d be given to him. He’d read it and know I loved him. It’s possible he died thinking that I hated him. That part of the story is my own stubbornness in response to his selfishness. Even being a grown woman, part of me still awed my father as invincible. Not the superhero but not quite the bad guy either. Just a character in the background who choose never to step into the spotlight. His choice and I make peace with that even if he never made peace with me.
Rest Now Dad.
Come visit me in my dreams
PAUL LADELL HOMES JR.