25 Jul Meet: Carmella
Mom and dad divorced when I was near the age of 5, leaving mom with 3 little ones, under the age of 5, to nurture on her own.
Dad was in and out of our lives, but mostly out. Multiple disappointments, no shows, no calls, all while I waited- leaving me in tears.
As a kid, I often wondered what was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be his little girl anymore? Why did my dad not love me like all of my friends dad’s loved them? I wondered this through my entire childhood. These thoughts haunted me.
Dad remarried multiple times, and he ended up having five kids total, including myself and my two sisters.
The question arose again of “What was wrong with me?”–knowing and hearing he did so many things with my half sister– vacations, school events, family events, holidays, dances, graduation– the list goes on. I just couldn’t (even though I tried) understand.
For the sake of my own two kids, I tried to rekindle our relationship. I wanted my kids to know their biological grandpa. Only after a few years of an “on and off” relationship, I decided to dissolve our contact.
I went into protective mode.
I felt like I had to protect my kids from the disappointment, let downs, rejection, and hurt I experienced from him.
As I raised my kids, I often wondered on birthdays, holidays, and Father’s Day– if he ever thought of us– if he wondered what we looked like or where we lived? Would he be proud of me and my kids (his grandkids)–would he even recognize us if we were to cross paths–what does he look like–where does he work? These questions were never answered. He wasn’t there.
I’m now 47 and I hear through family, that my dad is terminally ill and on hospice care. A few days go by after hearing the news, and I decide I can’t let him leave this Earth with me having regrets- I needed closure.
I drove to his house with the understanding he was declining quickly, nervous as ever.
I walk in to see this weak, thin man-my dad-lying in a hospital-type bed. Tears started to fall as I said the word, “Dad.” He turned to my stepmom and said,”Mom, look, it’s punky (my nickname when I was his little girl) and she looks just the same.”
I bent over to hug his fragile body as we both cried. Hearing the words, “I’m sorry and I love you, I’ve never stopped loving you,” was what I needed all these years.
He passed just a few days later.
No matter the reason for his absence, I am at peace and can let go of the hurt, pain, and resentment I’ve carried all these years.
Thank you for reading,
P.S. — Mom, I can’t explain how blessed us 3 girls were to have you wear both hats of a Mother and Father-I know it wasn’t easy, but YOU made us who we are today! We love you.