An Unread Letter

What if you wrote me a letter full of all the important, sincere things you should have said when I was growing up? That is a lot to consider. I have the benefit of hindsight as I sit here at thirty, a parent in my own right. I might start with the most obvious element: you only told me that you loved me once, that I can recall. I was five or six and it was when you were heading out on yet another business trip. You were halfway out the door and waving as you said it. Heartfelt.

Maybe you said it all the time when I was tiny and precious and easier to contend with? I suppose I could have asked Mom before she died, but considering her drawn-out cancer siege, I think it would have looked horribly self-involved.

You do know about putting yourself first. You always were great at that, but the reward for years of greediness is the isolation you’re experiencing now. Three kids, two grandchildren and radio silence from all of them.

I suppose you should write in detail about how and why you should treat your fellow man with respect. You know, all of that reciprocity stuff we ought to have seen by example from our parents. Mom tried, but having three kids under the age of five it was all she could do to keep up with you working all of the time. I question if it truly was work. You traveled more than any other father we knew and there certainly was no payoff as far as our living conditions. It doesn’t matter any longer.

Even if you could write to me, it wouldn’t mean anything. Your permanent drift, edging out of my life, only confirms that you were unfit to be a parent. Capable of conceiving, sure, but that isn’t much of a badge to wear, is it? A few minutes of physical interaction doesn’t equate to love. Paying for food and shelter doesn’t make you a father. These are the lessons I’ve learned from you.

© 2021 Jeff E. Brown. All rights reserved.

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