Monday, October 16, 2006

The ties that bind

Yesterday an email rolled in from The Distant Father-in-Law (TDF). TDF lives in a faraway country on a faraway continent but still apparently within striking distance. Or maybe his power to wound just knows no boundaries. In a few words he managed to make it clear how little his son’s birthday, a date that incidentally doesn’t arrive for another month, means to him. Usually there's no mention of birthday greetings at all, but this email included a line about believing the birthday “is sometime around now.” It’s a simple line that made me see red. I’ve obviously never been a father and he’s got seven kids, but no matter how many times it happens surely you’d remember when each of them was born. Their birthdates don’t stop being special because they’re one of many. It was a clear message intentionally conveying how unimportant the date is to him. I guess it’s not my fight and I can’t say this to anyone, but it makes me appreciate the vast distance, lack of contact, and usual apathy. Most of all it makes me furious and bitter on behalf of the person I care about most -- a man who unfathomably harbors no bitterness about the past and this cold father who is oblivious to him.
You make your own family in this world.

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