(Image found at Free Clip Art Now.)
This is a piece I wrote about two years ago. Since a lot of my blogging friends are reposting stuff, think I'll put this up again. Enjoy!
When I was five years old I got an unexpected Christmas gift. That morning I woke up at my usually time of 7 a.m. (I was a light sleeper even then) to find an array of toys under the bright Christmas tree in my grandparents' basement. I quickly fell on my knees to look through each and every thing Santa delivered over the night. And then, from the top of the stairs, I heard, "Ho ho ho!"
I knew that voice anywhere. It was my father!
Sure enough, there was Dad in his long leather coat, dark shades, and fedora hat coming down the stairs. The old familiar smell of beer and cigarettes--left over from nights tending punk rock bars--lingered on his shirt. I don't remember what all I got that year, although I'm sure I got a lot of great toys. All I remember is that Dad took the time to spend Christmas morning with me.
Dad was more like a fun uncle that would occasionally visit, rather than an actual father. As a child I would sit by the window and eagerly wait for his next visit. When will he be here? Why is he late? He said he’d be here. Is he going to bail out again? Finally a car would pull into the driveway and there he would be: punk band t-shirt, Converse All Stars, beer and cigarettes on his breath. During his visits, we wrestled in the living room, fished at the park, and played with nearly everything at KB Toys. He introduced me to punk rock, and taught me the comedic genius of poop jokes. Then he would leave again, and I wouldn’t see him again for another six months. Maybe even longer.
For a while Mom never told me why she and Dad divorced. Whenever I asked, she would just say, “It just didn’t work out” and leave it at that.
As I got older, I saw less and less of him. Sometimes I would be years before he would visit again. Around the same time, Mom told me why they divorced: the drugs, the women, and finally one day packing up all his stuff and leaving behind only a note on the dining room table. Ever since the divorce Mom often had to work two jobs so I could have enough to eat, since she never received one child support check from Dad. As I learned all this, the image I had of my dad being some golden idol quickly tarnished; now I only saw a pathetic man who refused to grow up. I didn’t want anything to do with him anymore.
But after a strange series of events--including finding out that I have a younger half-brother--Dad and I got back in touch. And he's really grown up; he now has a seven-year-old daughter who means the world to him. For her, spending Christmas morning with Dad isn't just a once-in-a-lifetime event. It may have taken him a while, but now Dad knows you can be Mr. Punk Rock and still be a parent.
It would have been nice if Dad knew that sooner, but then I wouldn't have had such a memorable Christmas that year.