I called my Dad out of the blue in 1988. We hadn’t spoken in several years, and I wanted him to know that I had started law school. Calling him was a way of dealing with a nagging burr of unhappiness.
Dad seemed happy to hear from me, which was surprising. Most of our phone calls over my life were about me needing money and were painful as he explained how he didn’t have the money to give me. Those were the days when fathers weren’t required to pay child support. It was a terrible position to be in as a child.
I figured this phone call would be a relief to him, since law school sounds like a ticket to financial independence. Ironically, Dad was finally doing very well for himself, and for his third family. He wanted to fly me down to Orlando to see him, a first.
Funny how we adults can suddenly be transported to being a child. Wow! My Dad wants to see me. How cool is that? I was 26 years old.
Dad and I spent a lot of time on that trip talking and crying. I expressed my feelings of abandonment, and he expressed sorrow for the pain he had caused. He wanted to do better, and I wanted him to do better. But there were a lot of broken promises in our past, so I tried not to get my hopes up, even as we lounged by his in-ground pool.
Dad took me to his local watering hole to show me off to his friends. Occasionally, he would look at me and say “I can’t believe you are my daughter.” “And you did it with very little help!” he would add proudly. The “survival of the fittest” tradition was passed on.