If you know me in real life you’ve probably heard this story.
We moved from the Memphis area up to Michigan when Rock Star was 7 months old. A few months after our move I saw many signs advertising for graduation open houses. Her birthday is in early June so it coincides with many graduations. I had been driving by these signs and I told CF one day, “That’s going to be her someday.” He looked at me like I was crazy.
“She’s not even a year old yet. You’ve got some time. Let’s focus on her first birthday party before we begin planning the graduation party.”
These weren’t exact words (well, mine were; I absolutely remember saying that to him), but you get the gist of it. Here I was, a young mom of a not quite one year old, and I was already getting wistful about the day she graduated.
I remember reading articles from moms who were sending their babies off to college at the same time I was sending Rock Star off to kindergarten. My eyes would well up with tears because I knew, although it was new, this starting school thing, it would pass by in the blink of an eye.
I remember holding back tears as she climbed on that school bus the very first time, waving to her before the doors shut, and then driving up to the school so I could take pictures of her very first day of school. Hey! I was not the only parent up there that day!
I remember the fear I felt when she began middle school. My little baby girl going off to the big school with all those older kids. Why I didn’t fear my kindergartner going off to school with all those big kids, I do not know. But I do know I worried about the beginning of middle school. Maybe it’s because I never thought about a sixth grader picking on a five year old; I guess I didn’t ever think it happened. Maybe it’s because they’re so much more segregated in the elementary school years. Or because the “dangers” aren’t as plentiful. Maybe it was because you end up getting very familiar with elementary school. They remain there the longest period of time. Maybe it’s because you think of all the kids in elementary school as kids, regardless of age, but those kids in middle school… well, they’re teenagers and you all know the dangers of the older teens! They might lead your baby into temptation.
Finally, I remember her high school orientation. They talked about how this would be a great four years and how this high school would feel like home to them by the end of it. Seniors spoke of their time at the school and how quickly it had passed by. The speakers even talked about what was to come in the later years- perks like the senior parking lot and the seniors only outside area. They encouraged them to get involved. Assured them they would love it there. My baby was entering high school! Only four more years and she would leave the nest.
She was the new kid at school. Nervous. Shy. She wanted us to go with her but they separated the students and parents and that’s when an angel of a teacher stepped in and took Rock Star under her wing. She introduced her to her daughter and her daughter’s friends and by the time we were brought back together for dinner she was off with her new friends. She never looked back. I’m sorry she had to leave it behind.
What a beautiful segue way into CF and his attendance. He is, after all, the reason she didn’t graduate from that high school.
I was all set to write a blistering post about him not being there and how he should have been. I was composing it in my mind when he went and messed that up. Good for him. It wasn’t much but it was better than him not showing up at all.
Shortly before graduation Rock Star announced to me that she thought her dad had contacted her to ask if she had a ticket for him so that he could attend her graduation.
“What do you mean you think he contacted you?” I asked her.
She goes on to tell me that she had deleted him from her contacts list so she wasn’t sure it was him (like so many random people text her and ask her for a ticket to her graduation). She told me the area code and I confirmed that it was him (based on nothing more than the area code, but again how many random people are texting and asking her if they can attend her graduation?).
I asked her what she wanted to do and she told me she didn’t care but she didn’t want to deal with him. It was left to me to put on my big girl panties and text him, letting him know that if he wanted a ticket there was one available. Honestly, ticket availability was not an issue. I also offered to mail it to him because I didn’t know the best way to get it to him. I didn’t know if I would hear back from him or not. Remember, he typically tends to ignore me. I wasn’t sure what I would get if he responded. I also figured it was a pretty big if.
He surprised me and replied to my message eventually. About seven hours passed between me texting with the offer and him taking me up on it. But he did reply. Told me he would love a ticket. He said mailing it would be fine if I thought it would make it there on time. It turns out he had taken some initiative and had done some research because he also informed me that from what he had read on the website they wouldn’t get their tickets until they did their practice graduation the day before.
We had a polite exchange which ended with him agreeing to meet me at work at noon when I got off the day of graduation and I would give him the ticket then.
I did let my co-workers know I was going to be meeting him so if someone found my dead body in the parking lot they knew where to look, but it never came to that. Obviously since I’m writing this.
He texted to let me know he was there. I texted him about 15 minutes later to let him know I was on my way out. He met me in the parking lot. I gave him the ticket. He asked me if I would give Rock Star the two cards he had for her. I said yes; he said thank you and turned and walked back to his car. That was it.
I don’t know what I was expecting. It’s not as though I wanted to go grab a coffee and reminisce with him. I found it somewhat odd, though, that a ten second exchange was the extent of our conversation on the day our daughter graduated from high school. That day I had tearfully lamented only weeks before her first birthday back when we were new parents was finally here and instead of celebrating together or sharing our pride in her or making any kind of conversation about her, we were reduced to a ten second superficially courteous exchange.
I’m not sad. Again, I didn’t want to go off and have drinks with him. I didn’t want to pretend that we were best buddies. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe I thought he might try a little bit harder. Maybe I thought he would comment on Rock Star and how our daughter was graduating. Maybe say something like, “It’s hard to believe she’s graduating; do you remember how you were freaking out about this 17 years ago before her first birthday?’ or, “Our daughter did it. She graduates today. Can you believe it?” or, “Did you ever think this day would come? Where did the time go?” Hell, not to go off the rails but possibly I thought he might thank me for raising her and getting her to this point in her life. “Thanks for standing by our kids and doing the right thing after I walked out on them.” I know- crazy talk!
Instead he thanked me, as one would thank a cashier or a server, and turned and walked back to his car. He was wearing a shirt I had bought him years ago, and flip flops with jeans. In all my years of being with him I don’t recall him ever wearing sandals or flip flops with jeans. He barely wore them with shorts.
He has put on weight. He had lost about 50 pounds when a doctor told him there were fatty deposits on his liver and if he didn’t lose weight he would have to have his liver biopsied. He’s gained it all back, although I wouldn’t call him fat. I never thought of him as fat.
I did drive around to pass by his car to see if he was alone or if he had brought the whore with him. I knew she didn’t have a ticket but I didn’t know if she would be accompanying him up to the city. Spoiler alert: He was alone.
He had said in a text when trying to arrange a meeting time for the ticket that he would be coming up the day of graduation, and that his room wouldn’t be ready until 3, but that could have all been a lie and she might have been tucked away at the hotel for all I know.
My mom informed me when I arrived at the graduation site that she had seen him and that he was wearing a suit and tie. For some reason this really irritated her. How dare he dress nicely!
I later spotted him from our seats. He was two or three sections over, sitting by himself. I was with a group of nine other people, not including Rock Star or Picasso. He, btw, was down in the orchestra pit, playing Pomp and Circumstance as his sister graduated. Very cool.
At one point the principal asked all parents, grandparents, and guardians of the graduating seniors to stand. I glanced over in his direction to see what he would do. He remained seated.
It might have been my mom, but it could have been a friend, who was appalled at the idea he remained seated. At the time I was thinking, “You better not stand up, you sonofabitch! You haven’t done a damn thing to help raise this kid.”
“But he’s her parent! Why wouldn’t he stand?”
Because he has played no part in getting her to this point! Perhaps if we considered more than just the high school years he could have made an argument about standing. But if we’re going strictly by the four years of high school? No, he has no right.
He moved her across the country and made her give up everything she loved, and once she adjusted and found a new life, an awesome new life, he yanked that away, too, by cheating on me and opting to destroy her family. He cut us off financially and while he gave Harley and her kids everything he possibly could, he let his own kids suddenly struggle. While Harley’s kids were living a dream life filled with puppies and expensive dresses and every little fun thing under the sun thanks to new Daddy, his own kids were having to cut back and do without.
He barely played a part in her life her first year of high school. He was engaged the first half, but the second half he was too busy feeling sorry for himself and checking out of the family. He completely checked out her second year, not having a single conversation with her despite living in the same home until February, and choosing to move six hours away without saying a word. And for the last two, after ripping this new life to shreds and forcing her to start over yet again, he hadn’t set eyes on her.
I asked her at one point how she felt about her dad attending graduation. Her response was that she didn’t really care. “He can’t just show up for the big days,” she told me.
I later found out that he had texted her while he was up here. I guess he told her that he was available if she wanted to talk. From what I heard she ignored him and never responded.
I also learned that after we were done taking pictures and most of us had taken off to go to the restaurant her dad came out of the shadows to get a picture with her. She said he approached her crying and then apologized for crying. She was over it (all his tears) by then. She might have mentioned something about rolling her eyes, but I’m not sure if she really did, or if it was a mental eye roll. She did agree to have her picture taken with him. He looks serious and somber. She is smiling, a photogenic beauty. It’s what she does when the camera is pointed her way.
Why would he not be grinning from ear to ear? It’s a fantastic day! His daughter has just graduated from high school. This is a huge milestone in her life. He should be delighted. He should be happy and smiling and eager for what is next to come.
Instead it’s all about him. His sadness. His pity party. If I thought for even a moment his sadness was because of all that he’s missed out on with his piss poor choices, or that it was regret for all that he threw away, I might have a tiny bit of sympathy for him. I know it’s not. It’s all about acting pitiful in the hopes that she will feel sorry for him and kick everything under the rug.
The mobster has said it’s sad. He quickly assures me that he doesn’t feel sorry for CF; oh no, he chose all of this. But he still thinks the whole situation is sad. He says it shouldn’t be awkward to have both of your parents at graduation; it should be a happy time and we should be celebrating together. In an ideal world, of course. I’m rather “eh” about it. None of this should have happened. Yet it did. You deal with what you have and try to make the best of it.
I know this has been a rather long post to say pretty much nothing. It was an anticlimactic event. I was shocked he reached out to her, even more shocked that he replied to my text. I found our 10 second interaction to be a little weird although I’m still not sure why. There was no other interaction between him and anyone else. My mom didn’t shoot him. My brother didn’t end up in fisticuffs with him. No shoot out at the OK Corral between him and the mobster. I do find it a little creepy that he was probably watching all of us as we gathered around Rock Star and took pictures. He had to have known the mobster was up for her graduation. I also find it a little sad that he had no interaction with Picasso. Granted, my mom took him with her to the restaurant and they left even before we did, so he didn’t have a chance to say anything to him. He had to have seen him though when we were taking pictures.
In the end I’m glad for Rock Star that her dad showed up. Even if she says she doesn’t care or that she didn’t want him there I know it would have been a hell of a lot harder on her to realize her dad didn’t care enough to even bother to attend. I know she thought that was the way it would happen, so I’m glad for her sake that she was wrong.
Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t think what he did took a hell of a lot of effort. I don’t think it took much effort at all, in fact. Sure, he had to take a few vacation days and spend money on gas, but it really was the least he could have done. I don’t think he’s turned over a new leaf or that he will be one bit more involved in his kids’ lives. This was the first time he set eyes on them in over two years and my guess is that it will be another three years before he sees either of them again. If he bothers to attend Picasso’s graduation, that is.
Considering he claims he doesn’t know his son’s phone number, and doesn’t have a clue on how he could possibly get it, my hopes are not high that he will come through for his son. And that makes me very sad.