Dear father of mine,
This is a letter you will never receive. I don't plan to plan it, I'll just let things flow which means there will be some salt with the sugar, of course. You don't need to see that part.
You and I have had a disconnect between us for many years, haven't we? I suppose it was bound to happen. Not very good with vulnerability, practically nothing in common, a bit self-isolating. I'd say not having you be too present in my life made me lose a lot but well, I only know who I've grown to become as I am now.
I know you tried, though. I know you try. I don't know you well, sir but I know that the only reason you pushed me so hard was a desperation to see me succeed. I know you grew up in the village in a time when you had to fight for your knowledge, you tell me how you had to hawk with pride in your eyes. You've done so much in your life. Began and ran a successful law firm for so many years, married, had us...
The quintessential family man. It's through the sweat of you and my mother that my siblings and I have the space to live without the weight of searching for money as you did in your youth hanging over our heads quite yet. But being a provider, as necessary as it may be, caused this chasm between us. One I thought would fill if I was finally good enough for you to garner your praise, your fleeting flutters of affection. I was terrified of you but I wanted you to love me, I really did.
And so, it began. The academic version of rat race. Try to be the best, as your father was. You even turned my twin and I against each other... Do you remember that? I don't think you knew but it taught us to hate each other for some time, that giant wedge of competition you drove between us. Not that it matters anymore. We both grew up and learnt certain things weren't as important as we thought they were.
I suppose you gave me more attention when I was little enough to be interesting and the slightly older me of then wanted some of it back. I don't know. All I know is that desire to please enough to be loved, although you didn't mean to help such a lesson weasel its way into my head, is still there today. And you aren't very good at encouraging it to end, either. You like when we do things to please you. I suppose everybody does. I only wish you had shown me that I deserved attention even when it wasn't because of a report card.
But I'm older now. We both are. You aren't as self-isolating or as distant or as suddenly aggressive. You're... Different and yet the same. I suppose that comes with growing up? And you're my father. I don't blame you for any piece of who I've been and am, anymore. I chose every step I've ever taken for my sake and safety. You not loving me enough wasn't the root of all my problems these past years.
It was me not knowing how to love myself. I was never really taught so I had to learn, you see. Build myself up brick by brick. In a way, I'm coming into my own. I don't think I could ever be as confident as you or mama but... I'm growing, still. You've had thrice my time of experience to ebb and flow and change.
Daddy... Try to be kind. I know you're trying harder now but... Don't stop getting better at it. Your wife never deserved those jagged sides of you. And neither do any of your children. I've learnt not to miss you when you're not around. But I can tell you what parts of you I miss the most when I haven't witnessed them for long enough.
Your laugh. That terrifying explosion of yours that appears at the most sudden moments. I love it so much. And your excitement when you watch football. It's ridiculous to me, the way you clap over a man attempting to kick a ball into a limited space. But it's amusing hearing you clap for people who don't hear you. I suppose middle-aged men deserve to fanboy, too. Your terrible (probably on purpose) singing, your love for garri, the way you seem to glow when you're with friends or "discussing" politics, despite your constant adamance that you are right and can never be wrong.
Shit. I got that from you too, didn't I?
It's weird, the way you are now. You started trying some years back but I'm still not used to it. The attempts to establish reconnect when there was once an empty, grey space. The little, sudden words of genuine kindness that confuse the hell out of me. Playing the provider role, the only one you really know how to play and buying the family food on every single special occasion haha.
I'm trying, too. I hug you once in a while. I never used to do that but hey, life is "short", right? I remember the day I called you on the phone, a breakdown too strong to handle alone for once. You were the last person I chose to call, no one else picked up but with all your panicking and trying to call my mother to deal with my panicking in your stead, it all made me laugh. The ridiculousness of everything. So thank you for that, you awkward awkward weirdo.
My grudge with you died the moment I realised my choices were mine regardless of your influence. Always my own. But even in the painful times, I know I have a fondness for you. I might hang out with you the least but family you are still and I'll never not remember you. Or feel some sort of affection for you, no matter what goes down between us in the future. Here's to many more fights and awkward moments to come.
Okay. That's that. Slow down with work and take care of yourself, please. You're the overachieving type, a trait I tried to copy for so long... Don't push yourself too hard. Stay a while with me before it's time to rest, alright? And I hope you're happy and proud of all you've done with your life. Because I'm happy for and proud of you, pop. Have a good evening.