Always On My Mind

The last time I spent any real time with my dad was when I was 12. It was then that I realized that the only time I saw my dad was if I called him or his girlfriend to ask if I could come visit. So I tested the theory. I waited for him to call me and tell me he missed me and could he come pick me up. Turns out, I waited forever.

At my Aunt Luanne’s wedding, my dad asked the DJ to play Willie Nelson’s Always On My Mind and then he asked me to dance. He was a crier. Like me. He cried while he held me close on the dance floor.

“Maybe I didn’t love you
Quite as often as I could have
And maybe I didn’t treat you
Quite as good as I should have

… If I made you feel second best
Girl I’m sorry I was blind
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

… And maybe I didn’t hold you
All those lonely, lonely times
I guess I never told you
I am so happy that you’re mine

… Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind

… Tell me
Tell me that your sweet love hasn’t died
And gi-ve me
Give me one more chance to keep you satisfied
I’ll keep you satisfied

… Little things I should have said and done
I just never took the time
You were always on my mind (you were always on my mind)
You were always on my mind
You were always on my mind (you were always on my mind)
You were always on my mind”

I hadn’t seen him or heard from him in at least six months by then. I was pissed. Cuz I was hurt. I was embarrassed, for so many reasons. Everyone there knew the life my dad was living. They knew he was not a good father to me. I think they were angry, too. Embarrassed. Ashamed. Abandoned.

I remember he was always smiling when he saw me. He use to whistle through his front teeth. I got to ride on the back of his motorcycle, wind in my hair. I sat on his lap and drove his truck while he pushed the pedals cuz I couldn’t reach. That scared me. It didn’t scare him at all. He took me fishing and he took me to visit my Great Grandmother. She always had Spanish cookies baking and $10 bills. She knitted me slippers and a blanket. She taught me how to crochet and we cracked walnuts while watching a Telenovela. She made me a toilet paper cover for the bathroom and curly ringletly ties for my hair. She owned the whole damn block of houses. Like all of them. They used to have a ranch, before I was born. I never met Joaquin, my great grandfather. He and Josefa immigrated from Spain. Mi familia es de Valencia, Espana. I’m proud of that. Pero, mi espanol es muy malo.

He was never out of control when I was with him. He would argue with the people around him if they had too much to drink or were talking about something they shouldn’t in front of me. He always seemed to have cash in his pocket. Let’s go to Scandia, daddy. Let’s drive the cars, daddy. Let’s pretend it’s all good, daddy.

I’ll pretend no one told me about the time you were in jail and someone gave you an apple with razor blades hidden in it and you took a bite. Oh and the time you were on so many substances that someone kicked your ass and slammed your skull into the pavement and you were permanently fucked up after that. Traumatic Brain Injury. And let’s pretend I didn’t see the scales or the baggies or the people coming and going, always a party. Let’s pretend the days at the duck pond were enough. Pushing me on the swings was enough. And your tears were enough.

They weren’t.

I grew up without really knowing my dad. I couldn’t tell you his favorite color or his favorite food. I can’t remember if his old green truck was a Chevy or a Ford. I can’t remember or I never knew. I’m not angry anymore. Now, I’m just sad. And now I see those old trucks everywhere I go.

I wish I had been able to tell him that I can see things from a different perspective, now. I can see how hard it must have been to try and keep up with a rolling stone. I’m sure it was hard enough to keep track of new phone numbers and where are they now? It was hard enough, I know. I struggled, too. But god damn it, why didn’t you stand up and say no! She needs some stability! She needs to know I love her! She needs to feel my arms around her when she’s sad or when she’s happy, when she does something good or fails. Someone to hold her up when she can no longer do it herself.

I would have liked to tell you I forgive you and I still love you and I’m so sad I didn’t know you. I’m sad you never took my kids fishing. I’m sad you never cooked them dinner. I would tell you that no one, and I mean no one, deserves to die alone without someone they love to hold their hand as they take their last breath and Covid can fuck right off.

I wish I had known. I wish someone would have told me. I would have been there, somehow, someway. I guess I will see you next lifetime, daddy. We got work to do.

So, I just keep fucking going.

And now I’m writing about it. It’s like a faucet. Drip, drip.

My dad died on 2/4/20. I got this one on Valentine’s Day, made by Bri.

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