Two Instead of Three

Photo: I have the high privilege of getting to know two teenagers thanks to church and parental friendships. I thought it would be nice to share summer reading with them this year and one of my books came in the mail today! This is actually a great way to keep me accountable for my own reading and, hey, it’s good to know what the kiddos have to read these days.


I dropped Major off at school and then headed for our local Paper Store. The Paper Store is turning into Dunkin’ Donuts, as there is practically one on every corner now. I used to loathe the place, truth be told: you go in there and it smells like roses and those Vera Bradley bags are right in your face and then there are always five signs in distressed wood with the “Joy” or the “LiveLaughLove” calligraphy on them and…. blech. It drives me nuts. I mean, I get it, it’s a gift store. Gifts are things that are supposed to warm your heart and the heart of the person you are giving to. But…. I dunno… blech.

I say that, but I have to admit that my Paper Store has been a life-saver multiple times in the last few months. Unexpected deaths, teacher appreciation gifts, birthday cards and housewarming gifts… I feel like I’m always in that store and I do usually find what I’m looking for. So, well-played Paper Store executives!

Today’s visit was for upcoming Father’s Day. The Husband’s gift of a new Wii U and Zelda: Breath of the Wild came last week, so he’s been enjoying himself immensely well before the actual holiday. Still, cards need to be purchased for him and for the two grandfathers in our lives.

Note I wrote two, not three. Longtime readers know that I should have written three.

What I’ve noticed about loss that you never really know when residual pain is going to creep up on you. Sometimes you feel like you are getting your footing, that you’re learning to be normal again, but then the next reminder comes around the corner and you have to deal with it all over again. For Grandy, it was her recent birthday and the boys starting to read. I have to bake a lemon meringue pie this week and it will make me think of her. With the loss of my father, it’s less frequent but just as painful.

I do consider having to walk away from my father to be a loss. Long-time coming, yet still unexpected, the abruptness of no longer having him in my life causes pain. When I think about what could have been, what should have been if he could have been a different sort of person… I feel the same sort of pain and tightness in my chest as I do when I think of Grandy. But then the anger comes, the disappointment. I admit that there is shame there, too. I’m ashamed of what’s happened to him and then man he has become. I’m ashamed I don’t have the capacity to change him, and I’m ashamed of my naivete to think that I could.

I’m ashamed that I’m not strong enough to try any further to be a daughter to him. I’m ashamed that my best option was to walk away.

So when Ursa Minor was “helping” me pick out Father’s Day cards, there was an unnecessary tension within me. Three cards. Only get three. Need a Grandpa, need a Pop-Pop. That’s all we need.

Minor was delighted to pick out $13 card for The Husband. They gonna display those VR cards at the perfect 5 year-old height so it was the first thing that boy saw! And of course the glasses are yellow! LORDY ME! “It’s got a race car! And glasses! And what are the glasses for?” I’m trying to do a quick read and I was stupid enough to say, “hmm, looks like it comes with a game or something…”

You know what happened next right?

“A game? Oh! We have to get that!”

That’s when I turned over the card and saw the ridiculous price!

“I’m pretty sure these are the most expensive cards in the store,” the lovely attendant told me as she was ringing me up. Seriously, Minor? Seriously? Luckily, Grandpa’s card and Pop-Pop’s card were $2 a pop, so the grand total wasn’t heart stopping. Then again, having Minor with me turned an $8 shopping trip to a $20 one, so… grrrrrrrrrrr, little sir! Grrrrr!

While we were in the store, Minor had to ask the obligatory questions about Father’s Day. The inevitable question came: “Well, why do we have to send a card to Grandpa and Pop-Pop?”

“Well,” I sighed absentmindedly. “Because they are our dads. You give cards to the dads in your life, and they are still dads. They are super special dads now because of you grandkids.”

Minor started doing the math. “Daddy is my and [Major’s] dad and Grandpa is Daddy’s dad and that means… Pop-Pop is your dad!”

“Yup,” I replied, without hesitation.

Even though it’s not Friday, I’ve have a lot of Quiet Thoughts about that lie. It simply came so easily. How deftly I was able to erase the existence of a man. Poof. Gone. Like he was never even there. Truth be told, when it comes to these two boys, he wasn’t. So… why is my heart so heavy? What, exactly, am I mourning? I still don’t know.

We picked our cards. We paid our money. We walked out of the store and headed for other errands. The boys need to sign the grandpa cards so I can stick them in the mailbox tomorrow. Off to Maryland they will go. Two cards. Two grandpas.

I know that one day I’m going to have to tell my boys the truth. I mean, there are pictures of Major with my father. He’s going to see them one day. He’s going to wonder some things. And I’m going to have to explain. And then I’m going to have to explain myself. And that’s part of the loss, too. Knowing what’s eventually going to come. That I’ll have to sit at a table with two boys old enough to hold me in contempt. Who will have the ability to pass down a bit of judgement for my behavior. Will my justifications be enough? Will they forgive me? Sometimes, I’m not sure.

Heavy Monday post. Sorry about that, Dear Reader. It’s probably the heat around here. It’s getting to me.

Chin up. It’s summer time, Dear Reader, and it’s the start of a new week. So many opportunities. So many ways to do a little something good for the world. Be the good for someone this week, Dear Reader. Let’s hold each other up this week.

Until Wednesday, take care.

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Trish says:

    I don’t know the details behind why your father is out of your life (and I don’t need to), but it sounds like you’ve given it a lot of thought. It sounds like you tried every other option first. In short, it sounds like you’ve done what’s best for you and your family; you’ve done the responsible thing and it’s hard. That’s an act of courage, even if it’s wrapped up with loss, disappointment and assorted other baggage. Reading some of the books put out by Al-Anon (even if this rift has nothing to do with addiction) may help.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Thank you, dear Trish, for the affirmation. I need a bit of that. The pain will linger for a while, and I find that for all my thoughtfulness, I haven’t found a cure for that yet.

  2. Miriam Joy says:

    Don’t really have anything meaningful to say here because I have no experience that I can draw on (although… my relationship with my parents hasn’t exactly been great the last few weeks), but just felt like I should acknowledge this post because I feel like it was probably difficult for you to write. I think Father’s Day is one of those days that has a LOT of baggage for a lot of people, and the relentless commercialisation of it doesn’t help either, but yeah. This comment had no substance at all, sorry, I just felt like I should say A Thing.

    1. K.C. Wise says:

      Oh dearie–thank you so much for popping by and saying hello to me. With all of the things going on in the UK and in London (and around the world), it’s a delightful surprise to hear from you. How are you doing? I really hope that you are being as safe as you can (under the circumstances) and know that every time I see the news, I hold my breath a little bit. What a crazy, mean, horrible world right now. 🙁

      And in the context of ALL of that, all of my problems seem so very, very small. This was a painful post to write. I don’t relish the position I’m in. Then again, I’m grateful that I am safe enough to write it at all.

      Anyway, was so good to see your name in my inbox just now. I’m sorry that I haven’t checked in on your blog lately. I’m terrible at that. I’m gonna get better. And I’m sorry that your relationship with your own parents has been challenging. I hope that those circumstances change. I will say, the older I get, the stranger my relationship with my parents becomes. The transition from “they are superheroes” to “they are obstacles” to “they are imperfect” to “I’m probably no better than they, but I can do things differently” is a strange journey indeed.

      1. Miriam Joy says:

        I’m still at uni in Cambridge at the moment so thankfully haven’t been in London at all, although tbh I live so far out from the centre that the risk is relatively low even when I’m at home (thankfully). I’ve mostly been too mired in exams to be able to think about anything else (including blogging), but they’re over now, so I’m just waiting for results. Have had a lot of anxiety re some of the recent issues though, mostly the Grenfell fire — I’m TERRIFIED of fire and always have been, so although I haven’t been directly affected by it, I found the news triggered a lot of anxiety for me. Which sucked, but not as much as being directly affected by it would have done…

        Yeah, families are complicated :/ For me a lot of it has been to do with coming out as non-binary a few months ago; that’s been a difficult thing to navigate. Plus going home for the summer is never easy because I have no friends in the area and it’s way less accessible than Cambridge due to just being BIGGER and harder to get around when you can’t drive or walk for long distances so… I have a lot of stress related to going home and I think my parents think it’s about them but it’s (mostly) not, it just gets misplaced. Mostly, though, we’re just all really bad at talking about our feelings and working through them, so stuff builds up. I’d like to say once we’re under the same roof at the end of the week we’ll be able to deal with stuff but if anything that’ll probably make it worse because we can’t even send confessional emails and then hide. (Not that I… do that…) Ah well. We’re looking after a friend’s hamster so I’ll just talk to that instead.

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