My Granny, however, jumped into action and was able to use the bedding and her new sweater to extinguish the bed. I was in SO much trouble. Until my dad saw the huge blisters on my fingers. "Don't be mad at her Ma", he said to my Granny as he slathered butter all over my hand. "She burned her fingers." Now I'm not sure what kind of logic that was, but it seemed to work. My Granny quit yelling and my dad, brother and I went back to watching our Christmas shows.
My dad did not know how to be a parent any more than I knew how to handle the jealousy that comes with being "not the favorite". Thankfully, as I matured, I stopped trying to find ways to show my brother just what I thought of him and learned to love him for the asshole that he was.
I wish I would have learned to love my dad for the emotionally crippled man that he was. I wish I could have accepted that his drug use and inability to be a father had nothing to do with me or my value as a person. But I was a little girl, a teenage girl, and then a young woman who craved something he couldn't give. I refused to accept his limitations and so I pushed him out of my life.
It's better this way, I told myself. If I can make him not exist, then I won't feel the pain of his inattention. So I pretended my father was dead, but when I cast him aside, a part of me died too. I just didn't realize it.
My brother called me on Christmas Eve. "Hey, your dad wants you to call him."
Of course, he has my phone number, but according to my brother, every time he has tried to call, he "chickens out".
"OK, I'll call him." One day. Eventually. Maybe.
But I keep walking through the kitchen and seeing that fucking turkey in the sink and remembering a bed in flames and butter on my fingers. And this really annoying voice in my head keeps telling me, "Your daddy loves you...he just doesn't show it in the ways YOU want him to. Maybe it's time to accept him for who he is...maybe it's time to FORGIVE." God, I hate that voice, but at least this time it's not telling me to set a bunch of paper towels on fire...
So I called him. And the conversation was filled with awkward silences and then we would both start talking at once...
How are the kids...how's your job...N just turned 18...I got to work a few days last week...how have you been...good, how have you been...do you ever come down this way...and then finally...
"I love you, sis."
"I love you too, Dad. Merry Christmas."