Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
The last time I saw my dad, I knew, in the back of my heart, that it would be the last time. I said, “We’ll work through this.” He was crying.
Some would say it’s unfortunate that we never did work through the great conflict that had been in the background for many years. It seems sad that a father and son can’t negotiate their way through a problem. Family is everything, you’ll hear people say, and the bond between father and son is one of the strongest. But my father left our family when I was twelve, moving from St. Louis to California and becoming — the way I usually thought of him all through those earlier years — a disembodied voice on the telephone.
I’m sure I came out to California in part to find a way to be closer to him. But he always had a defensive wall around him, a suspicion that I was there to make him feel guilty or to extract some kind of contrition. Once, after an evening of drinking, he said, “I have no regrets in life,” and I thought that was probably the biggest lie he’d ever told. He was estranged from his other three children. How could he have no regrets?
The last time I saw my dad, he had become a small man. He’d always been a couple inches taller than me, but that night, as I hugged him around the neck and said what I said, I realized the he had been reduced over the years and that I now towered over him.
For those who are lucky enough to have warm and healthy relationships with their fathers, this is a happy day. But for those whose fathers were, or are, hard to fathom, distant, closed, or absent, take it easy on yourself. Reconciliation is a two-way street.