September 11, 2005

i need a phone call

On my birthday, my father was in the hospital. I still waited up for him to call and even slept with my phone next to my pillow thinking maybe, what with the time difference and all…

I didn’t know if patients in the cracker box get to use the phone when they want to, but he never called.

A month later, I flew out West to visit. He didn’t show up to Sunday dinner and instead, hermited himself at some fishing hole or another. He didn’t call then either, but cellular reception in the canyons is always tricky.

If I call and he doesn’t answer, I hold the phone away until it beeps, avoiding what I know his voicemail will say. “Hi, this is Mike. I don’t feel like answering the phone right now.” Sad, tired. When I hear it, it scares me.

His emails are harder to swallow than his voicemail. They’re always about how much he loves my mother still. Unbearably. Phone conversations, though, are easier to manipulate.

How’s the new place?
Any sign of the baby hawks?
No, I’m still not seeing anyone special.

“Nothin’ more important than love,” he says, nearly every time.

“I’m doin’ okay without it.”

“Me, too. Me too, kiddo.”

And he pretends to believe me. And I pretend to believe him, too. ‘Cause I’m my father’s daughter.

Posted by This Fish at September 11, 2005 11:39 PM


Posted by: E at September 12, 2005 12:32 AM

I heart you

Posted by: Moi at September 12, 2005 02:01 AM

I'd call you if I was your dad.

But I'm a girl, so maybe it's a mom thing instead. I can't imagine not talking to my son.

Posted by: SWSNBN at September 12, 2005 02:29 AM

Sounds hard, friendly fish. I do much better with my own pain sometimes than I do with the pain of those I love.

Posted by: Popeye at September 12, 2005 06:51 AM

I feel guilty for being moved by your pain. Anyway, I'm continually amazed at the pain those we love can cause us.

Posted by: Serena at September 12, 2005 08:03 AM

hugs from a random stranger. But in a non freaky way.

There was a writ-up in one of India's leading national newspapers on your blog. Ill paste the link here, since you might want to read it.

I am not a spammer pasting links btw. (in case you were wondering)

Posted by: Archster at September 12, 2005 08:09 AM

Sounds like he needs a bicycle.

Hello, Heather.

Posted by: scott at September 12, 2005 09:34 AM

I love you, Fishface.

Posted by: G at September 12, 2005 10:16 AM

We all need a bicycle from time to time

Posted by: SillyCrazyMe at September 12, 2005 11:05 AM

random stranger hug.

Posted by: rg at September 12, 2005 11:34 AM

I think happiness is more important than love. Also, if you have one, it's easier to stir up the other.

Posted by: Tanya at September 12, 2005 12:41 PM

Are u from India by any chace?
THE HINDU is one of the most popular newspapers in the country... there was an article today about Woman Bloggers and it started off with you... Dunno if u already know anyway here it is...

Posted by: Dr. Prahalathan KK at September 12, 2005 01:13 PM

Oh I so crave for a relationship with my father more so than a relationship with anyone else.

You are lucky to have one another.

Posted by: Jasika at September 12, 2005 01:44 PM

Oh, that made my heart hurt.

Posted by: Laura at September 12, 2005 01:56 PM

wow, must be so hard. good for you for being strong for the both of you.

Posted by: amanda at September 12, 2005 02:03 PM

I understand both your positions Fish. I get depressed I isolate. I watch those I love isolate and it hurts.
Today I do believe love is about the most important thing there is and not just for my parents/significant other/friends.
If I can show a little bit of love to anyone, even a stranger it helps the other hurts. It's then that I can find happiness, or at least acceptance of the situation.

Posted by: Brian at September 12, 2005 02:15 PM

Give self a hug from me - am available for real hugging later ;)

Posted by: Ari at September 12, 2005 02:20 PM

I second all the things everyone else said already: You moved me. I feel your pain. And hugs from a total stranger.

Posted by: Carrie at September 12, 2005 02:24 PM

"Then I would shade my eyes from the sun and search far across the water hoping to see my father's boat coming home." Katherine Paterson, Jacob Have I Loved

I don't have your number, which is probably a good thing since you probably don't need random internet strangers calling you with book passages that have helped them through their own family struggles. Cheers, Fish

Posted by: brando at September 12, 2005 04:00 PM

Here's another hug from a stranger. I hope it helps. If I had your number I'd call ya.

Posted by: Leslie at September 12, 2005 07:23 PM

there is no love. there is no hate. the wonder of nature is its nothingness.

Posted by: Robotnik at September 12, 2005 08:15 PM

I may have said it before, but nothing seems to hurt more than knowing the people you love are hurting or in tough times. If a big tender heart could heal him, he'd be good as new with yours!

love that you are so international! you're officially my hero.

Posted by: knowsitall at September 12, 2005 08:22 PM

terrible article in that indian newspaper but it's awesome u're an international celebrity!

Posted by: fo'shizzle at September 13, 2005 12:18 AM

I agree, phone calls are easier than reading a letter. For some reason it's easier to make the spoken word into what we really want to hear than it is to make the written word into something we don't fear. And, there are things more important than love, I just don't know what they are.

Posted by: Emily at September 13, 2005 11:30 AM

your posts about your dad kill me. i feel your pain.

Posted by: j2 at September 13, 2005 01:26 PM

dont know you, first time to read, know your pain,i cried too.. hang in there.

Posted by: Tim at September 13, 2005 01:55 PM

I adore your disarming honesty. Thank you.

Posted by: HeatherAnne at September 13, 2005 02:10 PM

you capture emotions in such a poignantly universal way. thanks for sharing your gift.

Posted by: S at September 13, 2005 04:53 PM

This, I think, might be one of my favorite posts you've written. I am right there with you, an almost identical relationship with my own father.

I would call you too, but I'm totally not your dad.

Posted by: julia at September 13, 2005 06:57 PM

From another daughter of a difficult father I hear you and know where you're coming from.

More is left unsaid in our (father and myself) conversations than is said. And at times I know that after 50 years it is just easier that way.

Posted by: Maria at September 13, 2005 09:09 PM

All fathers who act like that are uncomfortable because of the guilt they still harbor from molesting their daughters as children. Daughters usually black it out from their memories (unfortunately I couldn't) and like Maria said, sometimes it's better not to say anything. Peace be with you.

Posted by: Denise at September 13, 2005 10:23 PM

That is a grossly genearlized statement to make!

While I am sincerely sorry for your suffering, I do not agree that fathers uncomfortable with communication are child abusers. Mine, was not. Being withdrawn does not a sexual predator make.

Posted by: Fish at September 13, 2005 10:36 PM

This post really spoke to me too, so I'll add a hug to the list.

You remind me of friends I've lost touch with; reading your blog keeps them fresh in my memory even though my correspondence with them has faltered.

Your blog also always reminds me of a favorite line from a song a friend of mine wrote:

"I go slow with just one wish, this bicycle needs his fish"

They are a Pittsburgh band called The Working Poor, I know you like music, if you'd like the mp3 I'd be happy to e-mail it to you.

Thank you for all your insight and lovely prose.

Posted by: saraemily at September 14, 2005 04:24 PM