Ghosts That We Knew

My dad called me earlier today. I hadn’t noticed my phone was ringing until the missed call lit up my screen, followed by a new voicemail.

But I can’t call him back now that I’m not busy because he isn’t there. Not in the way that I would like. You see, that voicemail I got it, was left by a shell of a person who looks like my dad. He sounds like my dad…with slurred, slow, quit speech. This person (if you can call him that) doesn’t call me because he loves me, or misses me because, to be honest, he doesn’t remember feeling either of those things. This man calls when he wants something.

I last heard from the guy formerly known as my dad this past Thursday. It was two days after he’d been arrested within a three week timespan. He needed me to wake him up the following morning so he could, “go get the pills back,” that were seized from his vehicle while he had a court appearance. He couldn’t wake himself up because they also confiscated his cell phone & money, along with all the drugs & drug paraphernalia.

If this sounds like a mega deal to you, don’t worry. It did to me, too…while he laughed about and informed me it was, “No big deal.”

The guy above has been around for the majority of my life. I’ve known him off & on since I’ve been two years old. What I don’t know him as is my dad. When I think of my dad, I choose not to recall the time he took 3000 dollars from me. Or the times I had to buy groceries for my sister & I because he never did while we were living with him (drug addicts aren’t hungry often apparently). The times he left & stayed gone for years are blurs in my memory. Along with the way he missed all my baseball games & forensics competitions. The man that made me cry in the floor of a hospital last year after his second OD because the fact that my stepmom wasn’t allowed around him (as she’d given him his drugs) was somehow my fault.  I’ve bailed this guy out of jail more times than I can recall because I ignorantly saw him & my dad as one in the same…when I now know that is not the case at all.

So I choose to remember my dad in a different way. When I think of him, the first thing that comes to mind are all the long Harley rides he took me on. Sun warming our arms, wind ripping through our hair. There was no pressure to talk, as we didn’t have much to say to each other after I hadn’t seen him over 3 times in two years, we just rode. More often than not, my hair would be a knotted mess when we finally got off the bike & those silver pipes burnt my legs a good time, or two but it was well worth it. It will always be worth it…

“There is nothing more painful than grieving someone who is still living.”

I think of the grown man who would climb under our poorly maid forts of bedspreads in the living room to play dairy bar with my toddler self. The person I would cry for when wanted to be picked up at any given moment. The fun guy who took me sledding & four wheeling that was always a little bit of a sucker when I yelled in my twangy Southern accent, “I wanna go again, daddy!!! I wanna go again!!!”

That is my dad. & that is the man I would love to talk to all day.


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