MY FATHER’S E-MAIL


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My father sent me an e-mail. My brother is spending a few days vacation with me, so it’s addressed to both of us.
The core of the forty words, I counted, corresponding to me reads, “You cannot solve problems by keeping quiet”. The rest was blah, blah, blah, duh!
Well, it’s true; I don’t know what to tell him. The few times we spoke, I was left with this heavy uncomfortable guilty feeling of having shared the privacy of my mind with someone I don’t know.
I mean, my father is someone I never recall living with. Ask me for his parent’s name and it’s a blank. I “featherly” know his family members.
I don’t understand he is the one who long disconnected me and now says am keeping quiet.
He has one brother and two sisters. I met them a couple of times, they’re all nice especially the quiet uncle and, his three children, my cousins.
Once, upon receiving an invitation, I crossed two continents for a cousin’s wedding. I enjoyed it and shook hands with members, in attendance, of the “family” and some others.
Yet, I always had this gut feeling of a leper with status.

Was the relationship with my father and the rest of his family good? I believe that all dysfunctional families are the same. They all have trashy emotional burdens carried a life time.
Which burdens? I don’t know, since I have never been privy to the secrets of the “family”.

Every year from mid November to early January I sink into the most horrendous depressive moods. I know it’s due to the anticipation, the time and aftershock of the Holiday season and my birthday which falls right in between.
According to “whatever” I get depress. Last year was the worst. I hate this season; it brings all the thoughts which I try so hard to erase. I wish I didn’t care but I do.

During the Holiday season every single person has a purpose and a place to go.
The familial anchors are the strongest and all public places punctuate jingle bells and the ho ho ho! From the big bellied white bearded man with red clothes called Santa. The jingle bells drive me mad and wish I could whip Santa in public.

I go nowhere and see no one. Loneliness is a lonely deep dark hole with no bottom. The only “I care for you” moments are the postcards and the few phone calls from my mother.
I don’t celebrate Christmas, my birthday and the New Year. I tried the Christmas tree rituals by laying gift under, sending postcards addressed to me and even the home dinner option with two plates on the table and me as my guest.
It’s awkward! It is useless being a token when your family slot has vanished.

So my father says I am keeping quiet. I was unaware the onus was on me to make noise for attention.
What is the protocol when you are five, ten, twenty, thirty, forty or fifty years old?
Oh! Who are you? – Am Patrick, your grand-son. In true caustic fashion I never got a hug or a reply on this one.
What am I supposed to do, disappear for their well-being? Fat chance, I am an indelible stain and their ghost during Halloween. I am the quiet man from far away land whose silence and presence make them uncomfortable.
Is that guilt?

Patrick-Bernard

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