A Weird Way to Celebrate Father’s Day

In Columns, Just My Bellybutton, Opinion by Nathasha Alvarez

Today is father’s day! Sometime today my two sisters are going to visit my father in New York. Even though I live in Miami, Florida I try to keep in contact with my father on regular basis.

This isn’t very simple because my father has severe Parkinson’s and his hearing is severely damaged. I am practically screaming on the telephone which can be awkward when you are on the cellphone in a public area.

Whenever I go to New York I visit my father and my sisters prefer to visit him when I am there as well.

I get along with my father now. But it hasn’t always been that way.

My father won’t change and I doubt there will ever be a miracle pill to help his disposition.

When divorces occur it affects everyone. The best way to have a more peaceful post-divorce relationship with your child is to be there as much as possible before the divorce and especially afterwards.

This might have been the best piece of advice that should have been given to my father. My sisters and I will never know if he was told this but he definitely didn’t figure it out on his own.

My parents divorced when I was 9 or 10 years old. My memories of our time together are only the ones I have chosen to keep. If I ever went to a psychologist, he or she would have a field day with me.

I remember my father and I would watch the 1970s cops shows like Starksy and Hutch, and Baretta. It was “our time”.

I remember how he would buy me, my mom and my two younger sisters flowers and chocolates on Valentine’s Day. I remember how he would get us ready for school. He would do push ups against the bathtub while my sisters and I bathed. He had the freshest mintiest breath ever!

What beautiful memories, right?

Ok you can go read another article if you like happy endings. Or you can continue with this one if you want something a bit more realistic.

While those beautiful memories are true, there are also memories of an absent father during most of my emergency trips to the hospital. Where was he?

I can vividly recall my mom commandeering emergency medical staff until my personal doctor appeared or I was properly taken care of.

I don’t remember my father sleeping in the hospital’s reclining chair, holding my hand as they plastered me with a cast for my newest fracture, or even trying to get me to relax as they took x rays of my bones. All of that credit goes to my mother.

Another day in another issue for my mother! That should be a doozy!

But where was my father? Growing up, he had me believing that he was busy working. He worked all the time. At the end of the day, he would call to ask what I wanted for dinner since I didn’t like the hospital food. That was the highlight of the day. Daddy was coming with my choice of dinner. The hero!

But isn’t a hero someone who is brave?

Where was he during my painful moments? Where was he when I thought my body was going to crumble from the pain? When they were about to take me into the operating room?

I don’t think my father was comfortable with the painful side of my disability. He felt I was a china doll that would be better off in a solid enclosed box where nothing could touch me and I could touch nothing.

The times when he needed to be the strongest and the leader of the family were the times when he went into hiding.

I was very young,naive and living in my own world to put too much time into rationalizing his actions. I took it as a part of life that happens. It wasn’t until my father was asked to choose between me and his second wife that our relationship took a turn into a dead end.

When he turned his back on me, he crushed the precious memories that I held dearly to my heart. It took more than 10 years and a fateful dinner at Tito Puente’s restaurant to make me realize that my father isn’t a hero or a coward but a man with strengths and weaknesses that lead him into his current situation.

I realized that no matter what the circumstances in the past and in the future will be, my special childhood memories must be protected because they are more fragile than my OI bones.

Happy Father’s Day!

Email your questions and comments to nathasha@audacitymagazine.com .