As a child, we were extremely close. You’d take me fishing in the harbor behind the Ilikai. Once when we went fishing, I was playing too close to the ledge and despite your scoldings, I liked to play by the ledge, hovering just above the water. I slipped once and you caught me by one belt loop, keeping me from falling in. Every weekend you would take me to Fun Factory and I’d burn through all of your money playing those crane machines, which, to this day, I still love and play whenever I have loose change. In elementary you were always the one who would come to my after school performances for A-Plus, and you would aways show up at my May Day performances while mom had to work.
When I was in middle school you changed your work schedule so you could pick me up from school every day. You also got me my first cell phone while I was in seventh grade so I could contact you in case something happened. We stopped going fishing and to Fun Factory, but you would buy me whatever I wanted, though within reason.
In high school, as through elementary and middle school, you would always buy me a rose for both Valentine’s Day and Girl’s Day. You were nice to my boyfriend when you met him, and you both came with me the day I had to pick up my prom dress. You bought both of my prom dresses for me. After I had convinced mom to let me enroll in Driver’s Ed, which was a difficult feat, you were the one who taught me how to drive because we drove each other nuts while I was driving and you also paid for it.
When I got caught with a boy in my closet when I was fifteen, mom kicked me out of her house and made me live with you since grandma and grandpa lived with you and there would be more “structure” at your house. A week or two after I was kicked out, I crawled out of my bedroom window and ran to the bus stop to meet my friends to go to a Chiodos concert. I got caught just as I was about to get back to my room, and you just said, “Fuck you,” and made mom drive all the way to your house the next morning because you didn’t want to discipline me. A few weeks later I skipped school and you found out because I carelessly left the receipt on my desk. You just said you found it, got mad, and avoided disciplining me because you neither wanted to discipline me nor call mom again.
After I started dating my now fiancé, you hated him right off the bat because he is older than me. Eleven years is a stretch, but we get along so well and he treats me well. We treat each other well. At first, you refused to meet him and kept talking about how a man interested in a woman eleven years his junior is sick. Did you forget you tried to date someone well over eleven years younger than you?
Your wife worked with someone who knew my fiancé and according to everyone around us, she liked to “talk” and had a big mouth. For God knows why, she said my fiancé sold drugs and you ran an ultra marathon with it. Nobody believed you, not even your parents — my grandparents — and they just told me to ignore you because you were being “crazy.” You confiscated my car and made me sign the title after I had forgotten to get the safety check. I was the one who did drugs and I was the one who left that empty roll bag in my car, but you assumed it was my drug dealer boyfriend, so you went off and called mom. She argued with you and said I needed to make my own mistakes. If I got caught with an expired safety check, I needed to eat the ticket. If I got caught rolling, I needed to deal with it. I was 18, and I was an adult. She yelled at you and accused you of forgetting you had a daughter when you got remarried. I was always the center of mom’s world, even after she got remarried, but your wife did take precedent over me. And you did become more distant and “crazy” after you got remarried. Mom told you that, if your wife was so important to you and if you thought I was such a lazy person who made bad decisions, and that your love for me was conditional, to remove yourself from my life completely. I agreed with her.
After mom yelled at you, you needed to talk to me. You sat me down and asked me if I was sleeping with my boyfriend for drugs. I was taken aback and just stared at you. I said, “…what?” and you just repeated your question. I said “No” and stormed off. What kind of father asks their daughter that kind of question?
I told my boyfriend to stop. I commanded him to stop trying to get you to like him because he didn’t deserve the abuse he got from you. Why should he try to get you to like him after you told everyone around us that he sold drugs? But he was persistent because he said it was important that you and he at least be on good terms since he really loved me and couldn’t have his girlfriend’s father hating him. I just said, “whatever, good luck. I don’t care about him.”
Over the next few years we saw each other on holidays and birthdays, and that’s about it. You would always say, “I’ll call you for lunch” and you never did, yet you would complain to grandma and grandpa that I never saw you, that I never made time for my family. I did, just not you. I saw mom every day since we worked together, and I always spent at least one weekend day with her. If I didn’t call her first, she would call me. You never did. Instead, you helped your wife at the bakery, did things for and with her nieces and nephews, and never called, but would tell your family I never saw you. I tell them it’s because you never call. My cousins would always ask if I was coming to the annual family reunion in Vegas. I know you go, but I’ve never even had the opportunity to go since I don’t know when it since as you do not and never have told me.
Your wife is a whole other issue. The first day we met, it was fine. But after that, she came on too strong. My stepdad had a stepmom so he knew how it was. He never tried to raise me and he never told mom what he thought she should do in terms of her parenting of me. But she, on the other hand, always gave her opinion about everything, she believed her employee and said that my boyfriend sold drugs before ever even meeting him. Her birthday one year fell on Mother’s Day so I didn’t tell her happy birthday because I was with my mother. You called, angry, and asked profusely why I did not wish your wife a happy birthday. I said I was with mom, and you said, “That isn’t how I raised you. You should have called to tell her happy birthday. This is so embarrassing for me.” I couldn’t have cared less about your wife’s birthday, it was Mother’s Day and I dedicated that entire day to my mother. A year or two later you then had the audacity to insinuate that you and your wife wanted me to call her “mom.” I flat out said no, and then you suggested I call her “aunty.” I’ve never called her anything but her first name because that is who she is to me. I call my stepdad by his first name and he has never cared. I think your wife thought she was getting a family with you and me; it’s unfortunate that she biologically cannot have children, but she came on way too strong and is two-faced, and that is not how you gain a “daughter.” She also made you stop talking to one of your oldest friends because in middle school — what, some thirty years ago? — you dumped your wife for her. Even your ex-friend tells me, “That was so long ago, we were in middle school. Who cares? He’s remarried and I’m remarried and have a daughter. I just want my friend back.” I cannot fathom why she even still cares about you. I went to her stepdaughter’s graduation party since we were in the same classes, and have known each other since we were six years old, and I never told you I saw her. That was last summer.
Quite honestly, the biggest reason behind me not being able to stand you is what you said about my mother. After your argument with her and your continued arguing with me about my boyfriend and our age difference, you asked me how mom felt about him. I said, “She was cordial to him from day one. She likes him and my aunty and cousin like him. It’s you.” To which you said, “Well your mother is like that. You know why we got divorced right? She cheated on me.” I’ve known that mom cheated on you since I was in middle school. She told me herself. Yet you felt that you needed to air your dirty laundry to me, out of spite, because you were upset with the both of us. I don’t care that she cheated on you. I remember the both of you fighting when I was little, it was better for you two to be apart. You had a good relationship post-divorce until you confiscated my car and told me that I was lazy, irresponsible, and a poor-decision maker, and she defended me. She ripped your head off because you ripped off mine, to her.
You said I was lazy, irresponsible, and so, so spoiled. Who made me spoiled? You gave me everything I asked for and bought me whatever I wanted, yet you got mad at me for being spoiled at eighteen years old. Mom was the one who disciplined me. She signed all of my failing reports from school, she signed my poor report cards, she got the phone calls about me not being in class, she found the boy in my closet, she found the cigarettes in my bag, she found out I was doing ecstasy. She never talked to me in the way you did. She dealt with my poor behavior all throughout high school since I lived with her and you got the “good” parts of me. Yet you had the nerve to tell the both of us how horrible I was, how difficult it was to be my parent, when she dealt with it more than you did. You then had the nerve to tell me that mom didn’t love me because she told me to move out of the house when I was twenty-four or to start paying rent. She made that rule so I wouldn’t end up living at home until I was forty years old like everyone else in Hawaii. You also insinuated that mom probably did not care about me as much now since she had a younger child. What kind of parent says that? I was almost sixteen when my brother was born, so I obviously understood how the family dynamic would change. He gets more attention because he is a child and I have never felt less loved by mom. Our needs are different — he needs more attention, all I need from mom is lunch and conversation. Is that your guilty conscience projecting?
Mom loved me through every single bad thing I did, and you stopped when you realized I would do things you didn’t always agree with. She put up with my mistakes, you never did. You condemned me for them but she always scolded me but said, “you need to learn from your own mistakes.” You tried to enable me, she tried to help me. She has helped me.
I love my mother more than anything. I cannot go a day without thinking about her, and I tell her I love her every single time I see her or when we speak on the phone. I see her at least once a week and spend an entire day with her. I cried when I was in India because my host mother was so kind and loving, but she was not my mother. I cannot imagine what I will do the day my mother dies. She told me that when her mom died when she was twenty-nine, she felt like her world ended and like she was utterly lost, and that she couldn’t imagine things ever getting better. That’s how I feel when I think about her dying. When I think about you dying, I think about just not seeing you at grandma’s house for the holidays. It isn’t much different than it is now. I’m never happy to see you. I’m either irritated or indifferent. I love my mother with all my heart. As a child I thought I loved you more because you never yelled at me or hit me (like a parent hits a child, not abusively), but she loved me through every bad thing I did. As I grew older I realized how much I put her through and how much she loved me despite all of my mistakes and imperfections, and I love her more every day for that. I cannot put into words how much I love my mother. When my anxiety and depression were really bad and I constantly thought about killing myself, it was the thought of her and my brother that kept me from it. I could not cheat myself out of time with her and my brother. You never once crossed my mind.
I’m getting married next year and I do not want you there. I need to invite you out of obligation, but you will not walk me down the aisle. If we go through with getting married in Seattle at my cousin’s house, one of my best friends will do it. If I get married here, I will ask my past coworker with whom I am incredibly close. It is not to punish you, it is because I do not want to make my own wedding day uncomfortable by including you out of obligation. You haven’t wanted to be part of my life for easily five years now, and now I do not want you in it at all. Remember, losing your relationship with me means losing your relationship with your only child. Losing my relationship with you means I have more time to dedicate to my mother and less stress about feigning happiness to see you. You lose more than I do. Even now, my fiancé constantly tells me I need to patch things up with you because I will regret it if I don’t. See how he still considers you while you could not care less about him? Yes, I am spiteful and I am petty, but this is something different. It isn’t like you forgot my birthday so I happened to “forget” yours, you spread rumors about my boyfriend, you made me the black sheep of your side of the family, you said nasty things about my mother to my face, you accused me of sleeping with someone for drugs, you let your wife turn you into a robot. Who in their right mind would want to fix a relationship like this?
Happy Father’s Day again. I said it to you on Father’s Day at grandma’s house but you probably didn’t process it as you were watching baseball the entire time while I talked to your brother and sister-in-law since they had actual questions about my work, school, time in India, etc. and said all about three words to me. You had one daughter — one child — and you seem to have forgotten that a bit.