Dear Dad,

I don’t know if you spent much time thinking about how your identity molded the person I, your eldest daughter, became. I know that the “unfinished business” of our relationship will never be worked through, not now, after so many attempts to figure out how to be a daughter to a father who should have understood parenting before jumping into it.

I was going to begin by taking some of the blame, saying that I felt obliged to fix whatever was messed up, to accept the incorrect assignment of blame. This is just not true. You didn’t know what happened during the day, but the night was yours, and you didn’t understand that either. I was the “identified patient,” I read some years later, long after sensible people had cast off that outmoded way of looking at a very dysfunctional family.

What happened to your giftedness? To be very talented, to be an artist, means – in my considered opinion – to be willing to share that gift with those nearest to you. And yet, the gift of a fine tenor/later baritone voice, was yours alone. Hands which made a violin sing, made the high notes so sweet and the middle range so soothing, could not be trained to touch lightly and respectfully anyone or anything else.

When a person tries to be the sun or his own universe, he only dims the light around him. When he owns his talents, doesn’t share them lovingly, the twilight becomes rather somber and the nights most haunting.  I wish you had know yourself better. I wish you had tried to understand me, too.

It is Fathers Day again, and for those of us orphaned now by the loss of both parents, the hollowness seems like an unbearable chasm. Shall I try to weave together the shreds, like a basket, or shall I just let it be? I KNOW that you will not get involved in any healing. It doesn’t fit your personality, your lifestyle.

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