Conversations with dad

Another phone call.

I have to accept the calls. I’m all he has left. My stomach churns with a mixture of repulsion and daughterly duty every time I see the numbers on the caller ID.

He has been sick for a long time. Sick with the innate illness that has plagued him for most of his life but he has also been sick with cancer and a variety of linked health issues for some time now.

There have been times when the phone will not ring for a consecutive stretch of days and I wonder…

Is this it?

Is he dead yet?

Once the prison contacted me to let me know that he might not be returning from the hospital.

I panicked.

He is my father. I know some people will never understand how I can have any love left for the man. I don’t like loving him. I wish I could turn it off. Not care. And of course I would be lying if I told you there wasn’t a small part of me that will finally be able to exhale when he is gone for good.

My siblings reacted much in the way others would probably think I would react when I told them about his cancer. Both dismissive and practical. I wouldn’t say happy but certainly not overly upset in any way. I will never for get what my younger sister said.

“Well Shana, you do know he is going to die eventually, right?”

Like we were talking about one of my neglected houseplants.

I get it. Yes. He’s going to die. Probably sometime soon.

I have been asking him a lot of questions about the past. He knows I am finally trying to accept my hatred for him and he is fighting me every step of the way. Denying what we both know to be true. He asked me if I was writing a book.

“Possibly.” I told him.

“Why dad? What do you want people to know?”

Nothing was his quick reply.

“Well, what do you want me to know?”


Then silence. He is a master of aversion and denial and he honestly cannot accept the fact that he did something wrong.

This is what I most want people to understand about him and others like him. They will NEVER change. He doesn’t think he did anything wrong so how can he not do it again? How can a person with so much conviction in themselves ever stop their sick compulsion? Unless of course it is just a part of his sociopath persona.


We were talking about child abuse. He told me he never hit any of us kids. Quickly got defensive and said he would never harm a child after what he lived through and proudly told me how he vowed he would never be like his father.

I of course pointed out that there are many ways to hurt a child and how can he honestly not believe he caused harm? Has he still not accepted the fact that he was a direct contributing factor towards the destruction of dozens and dozens of children’s lives? How many adult lives are now forever shaped because of his actions?

He averted the question.

Told me a story about something that happened when all of us kids were young. How my uncle slapped my sister for something she had done wrong. He doesn’t remember what. Talking back or taking an extra cookie or something trivial. He proceeded to tell me how he actually got gasoline and drove to my aunt and uncle’s house with every intention of burning it to the ground. He was in the process of doing it when my aunt discovered him hunched over by the back porch with the gas can.

Because my uncle slapped her.

Somehow he saw that as being so life altering terrible he was going to literally kill people over it.

Him though?

No. What he did wasn’t so bad.

No lasting damage at all.

Clearly he is a good dude. Just misunderstood.

Looking forward to the next call.

2 thoughts on “Conversations with dad

  1. God bless you. I understand what you are saying. Love and hate. Trying to understand that our (family) abusers were as abused as we were or maybe worse. Yet, not all who are abused abuse others. I think sometimes they are weaker more fragile in their psyche and survival was to abuse. What an ugly thought. Not sure maybe I’m crazy and don’t make sense. But, I have forgiven much and still try to understand. So WE are the stronger ones. I also try to make sense of it and understand but do not share for fear I will be judged by other abused survivors.


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