I never called you Dad.
Not Daddy. Father. Papa.
Which kept a somewhat safe distance between our hearts in the aftermath of divorce. We spent parts of weekends together as a part of a legal agreement.
You so desperately wanted me to understand you, to know you–the eccentric artist, the light-years-ahead-of-me poet, the Bohemian. And you spoiled me.
Bought me just what I wanted for breakfast (juice and gum).
Let me “shop” in the landlady’s basement for strange treasures. (I still have a jade ashtray that I apparently, in retrospect, stole).
Took one thousand (at least) pictures of me in black and white. How many kids have stacks of 8x10s of themselves?
And you played classical music in your car and on the turntable–a soundtrack to our adventures.
I heard Beethoven yesterday and my stomach clenched. Almost made me cry while at the same time made me smile. I knew the piece, thanks to you.
The soundtrack of our times together backdropped deviance too. It wasn’t all juice and gum and treasures and pictures (unless you include the nude ones of me).
Which makes me mourn all over again.
How do I grieve you, who was altogether fascinating, yet fascinated by sex? I don’t know how.
You died when I was ten years old.
The classical music suddenly left my life, and a hole the size of you opened up in me, a hungering, ragged emptiness that demanded to be filled. For many years, I mourned you as a hero, the Jim who swooped into my life and brought artistry to life.
And then my eyes were opened, and I wanted to hurl rocks at your memory. Wanted to scream, How dare you? How can a man be two things? Good and bad? Pure and defiled?
I stand in the in between now, the place where I hear the music, lament the bad, and try desperately to remember the good. You are no longer a hero. And you are no longer all villain. You’re a tangled mess of a man I cannot reconcile.
The soundtrack is irreconcilable, and perhaps it will always be that way, with undertones of dark and dances of light.
All I know is this: I wish I could’ve called you Daddy just once.
(This is a repost from Deeper Story).