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A Feast Of Deadbeats: Love, Sadness, And Long Gone Daddies

The Together Forever Gang Rides Again

Adele is in the news again, this time talking about her 48-year-old father.

Or her lack of one.

The 23-year-old Grammy champ says that her days of trying to get a bit closer to her estranged dad are over and that should she happen to run into him, she “will spit in his face,” according to an interview in Vogue magazine.

This is a shame too, because what a thrill it would be to be in your young 20s, and to be able to share the rarest of lives, of success stories, with your dad. I can hardly think of the prospect of anything cooler in this world.

And yet, she has her reasons, I’m certain.

Being abandoned by an alcoholic dad hurts like hell.

I should know.

Mine split the scene when my younger brother and I were still in our single digits. He just disappeared one night with his girlfriend, just up and vanished from the nice house where we’d been born/where he’d been staying with her, while my mom and my brother and I moved in with my grandparents; all of us crammed up in their ancient hovel of a home; a house known throughout the kingdom as the Leaning Tower of Lead Poisoning: a Mother Hubbard Bo-Bo balancing itself upon itself in a profound display of architectural melancholy.

The hurt of him leaving never goes away, either. The punch in the guts that comes from one of your parents leaving you, never bothering with you: that’s a punch that continues to punch, even long after you drop someday when you’re out shoveling snow, or after you fade away in some hospice bed. Whenever the person who was supposed to care the most ends up caring the least, well. The swat goes right on stinging long after you’re each dead and gone.

The world is littered with legacy of dads like Adele’s.

Dads like mine.

Grown men who got a woman pregnant and then decided that they’d rather not be bothered, for whatever reason. Then, while little people struggle to grow and understand how, why that parent is never ever there, in between catching lightning bugs in summer night jars and happily tossing the baseball around the yard with a mom who is both wonderful and exhausted, they begin to process all of that humbling hurt.

They begin to convince themselves that they will never get any of that missing love back.

Meanwhile, in some bar somewhere, or in some condo in some suburb, the one who left never turns off the excuse-maker in their mind. Their brains adapt in order to survive and, little by little, they are able to convince themselves that, for whatever reason, they simply had to go.

Listen.

If you happen to read this and you have been left behind by a mom or a dad at some point, just know that you aren’t alone. And know this. Know that you can make all that pain, all that missing and loving and wishing that we convince ourselves doesn’t exist, (because we have to get strong early and stay strong forever) you can make all of that stuff mean something after all; by trying your damnedest to never ever hurl the same terrible scorpions into your own kids’ beds; by never ever repeating what has been thrust upon you. Live with the hurt if you’ve got it. Roll with the punches that keep on coming, and someday you can bring much good from the blues living under your heart.

And, by some strange chance, should you happen to be reading this as the person who left.

If once upon a time it was you who ran a last yellow light at the outskirts of town.

If it was you who gunned the engine as the last streaks of day slipped below the horizon and you felt some sort of freedom coming back/something returning/some sort of lost art of breathing filling you up again, making you whole again/if you felt like the air that had been missing from your sails, the free that had been missing from your freedom had been returned to you on the smooth feathered back of an American eagle, please know one thing and that thing is this: there is a certain ghost who watches you, silently, from across crowded streets, following you up staircases and escalators, peering at you just sitting there, through more windows than you could possibly ever imagine.

And please please know that someday before long, when the time is just exactly right, he is coming in.

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