My biological father had surgery on Monday to remove the tumors from his colon and his liver. He has stage 4 colon cancer at the age of 49. I went up to the hospital after work, but he was still in surgery and we were unable to see him that night, so I went up there before work Tuesday morning, since the hospital is right across the street from my job.
It’s a very strange feeling to walk into a hospital room, and see this man laying there that you know had a part in the creation of yourself. To look at his face and see so many similar features that I look at in the mirror on a daily basis. Our eye color and shape are the same, our fingers, our ears, our hair color, our introvert personalities. We are so identical in so many ways, and yet I don’t know him well at all. His mother lives with me, and she and I are very close. We always have been. She has more than made up for his lack of appearance in my life. But him? I’ve seen him twice in five or six years, on Thanksgivings I think. Maybe one Christmas a few years ago. No gifts, no birthday text messages, nothing really to do with me for the last thirty-one years of my life. He isn’t mean, he just wasn’t interested in having a daughter. When my half-sister came into the world, suddenly he had an active interest in being a father. By that point he had signed his rights over and my step-dad adopted me. He is another monster I don’t even want to get into right now.
So, legally, this man isn’t my dad anymore. His name is no longer on my birth certificate. But between him and my step-dad, I prefer him. He didn’t lead me on, he never made promises that he couldn’t keep. He just simply wasn’t active in my life. I still love him anyway. I always will.
Tuesday when I sat down in the chair beside his hospital bed, I watched him sleep for a moment. I was searching his face in unrestricted access – like a starving child glancing at water. I reached out and touched his arm softly and his eyes opened up, and he smiled this huge beautiful smile – his teeth are absolutely stunning, and immediately reached out for my hand. My heart broke into a million pieces for this man that I am so much alike in so many ways. My heart broke for myself for the potential missed opportunities I could have had growing up with an actual father. Instead of the stand-in adoptive father that treated me like garbage because I wasn’t his blood.
I was happy that I was the first one to see him after his surgery. I was happy that he was genuinely happy to see me. He and I are both people of few words. I don’t entertain thoughts of us having a relationship beyond my visits to the hospital. It just isn’t in the cards for us. I tried for so many years to get him to take an active interest in my life, and he didn’t want to. But I have let him know that I am always here if he needs something. I will always be here for him.
Life is too short.