Lacking a father’s love 3

At the end of a brief conversation I had with my biological father recently, the first in over a year, he said, “Never doubt that I love you.”

It was maybe the third or fourth conversation I’d had with him in the six or so years since my daughter found him via the magic of the internet.  Prior to that, I hadn’t heard from him since I was about four years old.  I won’t go more deeply into that.  His words set me afire with anger.  They got me to thinking about the word “love.”  For me, love is action not pronouncement.  There have been a few people from whom I never heard the words “I love you” yet I still felt loved by them because they demonstrated love through their actions.  

Here, then, is this daughter’s lament.  How (?!) can you say you love me when you:

Didn’t contribute to my upbringing; not the cost of a meal, an outfit, or a school book?
Didn’t give me a Christmas or birthday or “just because” present ever?
Haven’t sent a card – since the one I received around my fourth birthday promising me a cake and a coat (that never came)?
Didn’t give me a photo of you, my grandmother (whose name I carry), my half-siblings, or of you playing piano (the way you made your livelihood for most of your life)?
Didn’t give me a history – stories of your upbringing, your love for my mother – you did love her at one time didn’t you?
Have not offered me words of wisdom, instruction or caution along my life’s journey?
Robbed me of contact with and knowledge of the Puerto Rican side of my heritage
?  (Let me go on record as saying that the Black side of my culture is so fabulously rich I don’t feel at all culturally-deprived.  Still it would have been wonderful to know both of my cultural halves.)
Left me with only one language, English, in which to think, dream, and communicate?
Didn’t see me for any of the years of my life after my first three?
Canceled the opportunity you had to meet me two years ago when I came to Florida mostly to see you?  (At the very last minute, I might add.)

How can all those things not done, experiences not shared, and support not given be love?  Father…seed…I could have done without that pronouncement if in some way, over these many years, you had been in my life.
I do thank you that you had the wisdom or dumb luck to choose my mother – who has loved and continues to nurture me every step of the way, even when I was difficult, even when she was tired, broke, and not sure how she would make it.

I am one of the millions of children who are fatherless because their fathers deserted them and shirked their responsibilities to them.  In many ways, it was better for me during all those years I assumed you were dead; this was the only reason I could fathom that you hadn’t been in touch.  I had stopped thinking about you, had stopped longing for the idea of you.  Yet every few years, there would be an odd mention of you when my aunt would say that something about me reminded her of you.  Genes are powerful – as powerful as nurturance.

With the love of my mother, my stepfather, my extended family – I was loved, fed, cared for, disciplined, nurtured, raised UP…still it might have been better, I might have been more had there been you, my original man, in my life.

My true lament, the thing that I am trying to understand because I’m always trying to understand how things are,  is this – how can you say “you love me” when you have never done one thing to demonstrate your love?  Did you even say a prayer for me and my sister’s well-being for lo those many years?

Don’t claim to love me – those words lie.  Your actions are the truth and the truth hurts/stinks/enrages.

About Candelaria Silva

Candelaria Silva-Collins is a marketing, community outreach and programming consultant; writer; and trainer/facilitator who lives in Boston, Massachusetts. She has designed and facilitated workshops on a wide variety of topics including communication, facilitation, job search skills, team building, and parenting issues. She currently coordinates the Community Membership Program of the Huntington Theatre Company. Her work as Director of ACT Roxbury was profiled in several publications, including The Creative Communities Builders Handbook. Candelaria’s children’s stories, short stories, essays and reviews have been published in local and national publications and she is an active blogger. Her publications include the booklets, Handling Rejection; Pushing through Shyness: Networking Tips when You’re Shy, Slow to Warm Up or Just don’t Feel you Belong; and Real Questions about Sex & Relationships for Teens: A Discussion Guide for Parents. She has served on the boards of Goddard College, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Foundation for Architecture, and Discover Roxbury. She is currently Chair, Designators of the Henderson Foundation.

3 thoughts on “Lacking a father’s love

  • Jim

    Haunting indictment. I am still having trouble getting past this post, can’t seem to take it in and the coziness of Christmas at the same time. This is a remarkable testament to anger and the failure of a man and the success of a mother and her child. Your father’s words are obviously self-serving, those of a man who has never grown up. God knows what his reasons are, but telling him in this way gives him another opportunity. Only a selfish man would see it any other way. Congratulations to you for trusting the world, trusting yourself and finding and accepting true love where it is given.

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