May First. Even though I wrote this date down all day long, it didn't hit me till around ten o'clock tonight that it is actually May First. May First is my father's birthday. I remember that about him, along with his phone number, and his middle name. I don't have any photos of him except for the one of him above where he was a young man, probrably in his early twenties.
There's something about his eyes that intrigues me about this photo. His eyes and that plant in the background.
Is he alive to celebrate? Not sure.
How old is he? Don't know.
Last year sometime he called me and left a choppy message on my voicemail from an unindentified phone number. Every now and then he does that. When I do speak to him--which was about two years ago, I can hear his arm shaking in a brace in the background from the parkinson's disease that plagues him. What he talks about is so surreal and foreign to me.
This man is my father. There is a tiny pocket tucked in my heart where I actually hold memories of him from when I was really young. My earliest memory of my life actually involves him and I in the backyard of what has always been my mother's house. I am holding an over-sized, red, wiffle-ball bat in my hands, and crying. I so badly want to hit that white little ball over the backyard fence, just like he does. Every throw he backs up just a bit and I move forward. Finally, rivers of tears later, and his back pushed against the fence, I strike that little ball of white plastic across the fence. He lifts me up and drops me over. I'm happy, I did it.
I remember, maybe a couple years later, wearing navy blue tights under my dress when he told me in his brown toyota that my mom and him were getting divorced. I remember the last night he spent at my mother's house with my brother and I alone. I gave him a few of my books for him to take with him.
Maybe a year or so after the divorce, on Christmas my dad gave me a red heart that said "christmas is for sharing". I slept with that heart in my hands for years, everytime I visited. Until he married Carol. Then things changed. She took the heart from my dresser drawer, and said that I lost it. Things started to fall apart then. My father started to see my brother and I less and less. All the fun and loving memories that we shared start to fade once he remarried. Soon he faded too.
I grew up without a father, is how I look at it. Lucky for me though, I got the best of him, in a sense. My brother agrees. Whatever happened to him and his life after his marriage, was a path I now know Iwas blessed not to share.
Sounds cruel. Possibly.
But I am reminded from time to time when a dark cloud invades my spirit, or when a sense of sorrow overcomes me suddenly, that a part of him exists in me. We carry the weight of our ancestors within us. A part of his spirit lies inside me. I can recognize it in his eyes when I look at his photo.