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Today Is Father’s Day and I Feel Nothing


On the anniversary of my mother’s death, first thing in the morning, my brother and I text each other a tribute to our mom and a message to her that we miss her. This year was especially poignant because it was the twentieth anniversary of her death.

On the anniversary of my father’s death, at least this year, because I can’t recall last year and the years prior, I forgot and so did my brother. It passed like any other day, either April 13th or 14th (I’m not sure), the eighth anniversary of his death. I have no feelings about Father’s Day. I don’t miss him and I feel relieved he and his demands are no longer in my life.

We had a conflicted relationship. He basically disappeared, retreating into his depression, when I needed him most, when I was at my sickest. He made his needs known — mainly grocery shopping and keeping him stocked with cigarettes — when I was commuting from Westchester, NY down to Queens, only ten minutes from where I grew up and my father still lived. One of my burning questions that never got answered in therapy is how did I wind up coming home to work?

After work, I did his shopping. I was greeted with “Why did you get me this sh*t cake?” or “I wanted strawberry ice cream, not chocolate.” I held my pee until I got home because his apartment was so filthy. Eventually, we moved him up to Connecticut, closer to my brother, which he eventually deemed a mistake. “He’s like having another toddler,” he observed.

© Cherry Lawn School

The Author’s Father (1950)

Source: © Cherry Lawn School

When he died of sepsis at a palliative care facility, I thought I would feel relief. First the migraines started, then the depression which was relentless. Unconsciously, I was tortured by the fact I would never hear “you are good enough,” escape his lips. My chase to please him proved fruitless. Eleven months after my father passed away, I attempted suicide. I’m fortunate the attempt was not fatal, though I was briefly admitted to a medical hospital to stabilize my vital signs. Following that admission, I was transferred to a psychiatric hospital for a longer admission.

In therapy, following the suicide attempt, I came to realize that my father did the best he could with what he had, which admittedly was not much. We realized he might have suffered from undiagnosed schizoid personality disorder. His parents, my grandparents having emigrated from Romania were not especially warm, loving people and they sent my father to a boarding school for his high school years.

He attended a school in Connecticut and graduated in 1950. Perhaps I get my writing ability from him, for he had several contributions to the yearbook. Here is one:

Patterns

Aimless patterns, traced by the wind

in the swirling sands.

Aimless patterns,

of blue cigarette smoke, dying

and being reborn

By each waxing and waning of a breath

Patterns. . . drawn by a mind strayed into limbo

Patterns. . . of a child’s first

unintelligible scrawling

Patterns. . .of a violent death and

the master pattern, it too, aimless

meaningless to those who follow their

patterns

on a grain of sand among a million others.

— Walter Rosenhaft ‘50

© Andrea Rosenhaft

Source: © Andrea Rosenhaft

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