Something really weird that caught me completely off guard happened today. I called my little sister, Avis in Virginia Beach, for her birthday. Avis has Down’s Syndrome and is as special as they come. Truly, she has made me laugh all of my life…and continues to do so. She is the reason that I’m as empathetic as I am…sometimes too empathetic for my own good, lol!
Anyway, we were on the phone laughing and joking as I sang Happy Birthday to her. I could hear her sorta bickering with my father in the background. That is normal, not “really” bickering, but just playfully complaining as she always has done with him. Mind you, I haven’t spoken to my father since July of 2003, about 8 months after my mother passed away. I stopped calling to check on him years ago and he’s never cared to have any interest in my life or development as a person…at all. Unless, of course, it’s to let me know that he thinks I’ll never amount to anything in this life. I’ve been free of that for the last 9+ years.
I have heard his voice over the years in this same fashion, in the background on the phone, over the years and it was always surreal knowing that my father was so close… yet so far. I don’t know if I no longer exist to him or what. I have no idea what he thinks. He knows I’m still alive. He knows I don’t live in Virginia Beach anymore. Beyond that I couldn’t tell ya.
Back to my sister. As she continued with her playful bickering all of the sudden he was on the phone with me. I didn’t know what to say for a second so I didn’t say anything. Then I started talking as if we were old friends. I wasn’t sure if he knew it was me or not. Then he asked something about her medication and I kinda paused and said, “I…don’t know. I’m not sure”. He replied, “Who is this?” I said “Bryan, It’s Bryan” (My given name). There was silence. He thought I was my brother Jeff who he speaks with daily. He stuttered for a bit; we made a little small talk. He asked how I was and gave the phone back to my sister.
It was odd. My sister was talking to me and I wasn’t “all there” as I was still dealing with what had just happened. Then my father got back on the phone and made more small talk and either the call dropped…or he hung up. I sat there in my car in silence. For the life of me I cannot understand how and/or why my father has treated me the way he has for my entire life. In his eyes it seems as though I have zero redeeming qualities. I started to feel very emotional and sad. After sitting there for a bit I gathered myself and made my way home.
The older I get the more I see how much I missed from not having a supportive and nurturing family. It happens to a lot of people. I’d like to think that if I ever became a father I’d be great and really try to be all I could be for my family. Maybe my father is giving all he has to give. I don’t know, but I know that I wish it was more or he'd at least try to be better.
My sister Avis. Happy Birthday! I love you!