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Blog: My Father

(originally written 3/18/13)

This coming Saturday will complete my 33rd year on earth. It will also mark 11 full years since the last time I spoke to my dad.



Though he was never really totally out of it, Dad was never a regular presence in my life. I'm told by reliable sources he was present at my birth—high. I'm also told that despite already having a daughter, he wasn't ready for fatherhood at that time (he was 23) and in time, simply faded away into the streets, eventually re-marrying and fathering two more daughters. 

Wife #2 wanted me and my mom to just kind of...disappear from his life; for a time he obliged her. I have no memories of him before my 12th birthday, when he re-appeared with gifts and did begin to make an effort to be my dad. While my mom treated him fairly, the rest of my family could barely manage civility, which didn't help the situation.

Over the next decade—increasingly as I reached adulthood—Dad and I would meet up every so often and throw the football, have breakfast, talk women, etc. (He also tried to forge a bond with me and my sisters, but it didn't take.) We weren't quite David and Sean Goldman, but we were something.



March 23, 2002. I'm celebrating my 22nd birthday by being lewd with my future baby mama. Dad calls. Dad isn't happy. Dad accuses me of forgetting birthday plans we'd made the previous week, and also accuses me of "ALWAYS DOING THIS!" I absorbed his beration. We hung up.

Later, I made the internal decision to move forward without my dad. That way there'd be zero risk of ever letting any other plans with him slip my mind. People who know me know I have no problem cutting people out of my life when I deem it appropriate, and not looking back. Dad was hardly indispensable, and every achievement of my life up to that point (and beyond) came without his contribution.

I didn't hate him. I just didn't need him.



Now that I have a daughter, which may or may not be his only grandchild (though I doubt it with three adult sisters), I've been wrestling with the decision to reach out to him, as he's attempted to do to me several times over the past decade.

On the one hand, I DO want Josie to at least meet her entire family, including her grandfather. On the other hand, it doesn't bother me one bit that I never met either of MY grandfathers (my maternal grandpa died exactly 11 months prior to my birth, but I'm not here to talk about the past.)

I have my dad's email address. I know other ways to reach him. Every so often I get the urge to but something stops me. My analytical side warns me that one day he will die, and any chance we have of reconciling will die with him if I continue punishing him.
But my pessimistic, misanthropic side warns me that he won't add anything to my life at this point—I'm 33 and don't need a "father figure" to "mold me". Why get involved with somebody who is unlikely to ever let me live down my decision to abort our relationship? Or, worse yet, may just want to tell me to f--- off for being a crappy son?

I don't know what I will do. My dad is 56 now, so statistically I should have plenty of time to make up my mind. Of course, in recent years two of my uncles dropped dead at 58.

I've considered writing him a concise letter just informing him I'm still alive, something like:

"Hi, Dad. It's Skillz. Hope you are doing well. It's been a while and a lot has changed for me; I've spent most of the past decade living in San Jose, and had a daughter in 2009. Her picture is attached. Sherril (my mom) is well, but my grandma, Bubba, Ashanti and William have all passed on. I am very busy these days being a single dad and starting a sportswriting career, but maybe sometime when it's convenient for both of us we can meet for a meal. Sincerely, Skillz."

With no apologies, promises, or allusions to the 11 years of separation.

I've also considered the fact that my life is just fine the way it is, and why bring someone (back) into the picture who is a stranger by now, simply because we share genes?
And I've also considered how I would feel if Josie ever stopped calling me, and just how heartbroken and dejected it'd leave me. Of course, I've actually raised Josie since her birth and would never, ever, everput the wishes of some tramp over being her father.
Wonder if Jim Harbaugh's decision to go with Kaepernick over Smith was anywhere near this difficult...

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