I wish I could write stories about my Dad the same way I can write them about my Mom. The unfortunate truth is that my daddy was a man that I barely knew, and that’s such a pity. My childhood memories with him have been some of the best of my Life.
My dad was the one who initiated my passion for traveling and opened my mind to explore different countries and cultures. The first time I took a plane with him I was 2 years old. He got me a window seat and told me: “You are about to see something magical. This plane will run very very fast and then it will make a big jump in the air and will start floating, go higher and higher and the world below will become smaller and smaller, like your little Lego toys”. I was so fascinated and excited, it really sounded incredible to my ears. I love flying ever since that day.
My dad was a hard worker, he had an export company that would sell hardware and furniture of Italian design all over the world. He had clients on the five continents and two branch offices in Asia. That was when things were going well. I’ve constantly seen him working, even during the holidays, but he’d still find some time for me and when that happened it was a lot of fun.
He’s the one who introduced me to technology and computers. He showed me how to turn on his PC to play video games, which I think he ended up regretting because, after a couple of times he did, I had learned how to access to it without him being around. That was around the year 1983, so we’re talking about a time where the MS-DOS operating system was the thing and the games were only Snake and Pac-man. While he was working at the office, he’d let me use his typewriter and his telex machine with which I’d write random stuff and then create origami out of the sheets of paper.
Some days he’d set up big treasure hunts around the house, teaching me how to read the hints so that I could find the treasure. When we’d hit the road for a trip he’d entertain me with smart games to play along the way like recognizing the initials of the cities on the cars’ plates or looking at people and coming up with with the story of where they were coming from, where they were heading and what mission they had to accomplish. I’ve never stopped playing that game.
When we traveled to the United States and Canada for the first time, he took me to all the existing amusement parks: Disneyland, Disneyworld, Wonderland, Seaworld, Six Flags. On the little studio tour bus at the Universal Studios in Hollywood, after visiting all the film stages and the props rooms, I remember seizing his arm and telling him: “Dad, one day I’m gonna live and work here”. I was 6 at that time and it took me 28 years to fulfill that desire but eventually, it happened, and here I am!
He bought me one of my favorite stuffed bears, which I still have in my room. At a local fair in Indonesia, he won a huge panda filled with polystyrene and then emptied it and put it in his suitcase so that I could take it back home with me. It’s still sitting in a rocking chair in his house. He took me to Malaysia, Indonesia, Bali and he’d recount me exotic tales before I’d go to bed. I’d push him in the water every time he was at the edge of the swimming pool and then laugh hard at him. In Miami, we swam under the storm. He taught me not to be scared.
I adored him, he was the man of my Life, my best friend, and my Hero. Then one day, when I was eight years old, after a weird weekend spent at his home, he brought me back to my Mom’s and never showed up again.
I’ve always felt he abandoned me and never understood why he decided to disappear and end the relationship with me. I’ve always thought I was his baby girl and that he loved me. How in the world could he do such thing to me? I carried a feeling of hate and anger towards him for a very long time. That event fucked up my life until I became aware of the truth and the reasons that were lying behind my dad’s choice and behavior.
For some twisted and insane reason, my Mom thought I loved my dad more than I loved her, which has never been the case. I loved both the same way and I didn’t want to choose between one or the other. My mom would say horrible things about my dad and so would my dad about my mom. The war between them was never-ending and full of resentment and I paid the consequences of it.
I haven’t seen my dad for 10 years after he walked away that day. I’d only get sporadical news about him through my sister. I discovered that he had another kid when my little brother was already 4 years old.
When I was 18, after saying the most horrible things to my mom, I left home and started working in a horrible bar to make some money. I was dating a guy who was a little drug dealer and who was cheating on me all the time. That was the most fucked up time of my life and that’s also when I reconnected with my dad. My sister one day convinced me to go to his place to say hi. In the beginning, I was opposed to it but eventually, there was a bigger and unknown force dragging me in that direction.
When he opened the door, all the emotions I had been holding onto for so many years resurfaced all at once as if I were a boiling pot about to explode. I was angry, mad, sad, I wanted to yell and I was trying to hide my tears to no avail. My dad was very emotional too, I think, although he could hide it much better than I did.
Before my eyes there as an old man whose features resembled the ones of my hero, my best friend, and the man of my life but I couldn’t see his magic and his beauty anymore. There was a man I didn’t know at all, a man that had missed most of my childhood and all of my teenage and that didn’t know a single thing about me, my life or my dreams.
I tried my best to rebuild a relationship with my dad after that day but never really succeeded. I’d see or talk to him only once or twice a year and our encounters were kinda detached and cold. Back then, I believed that he was incapable of love, now I know he was just unable to express it the way I wanted him to. Then one day, we finally managed to get back on the father-daughter relationship track.
It was after my mom passed away. I was emptying her house and throwing away some papers and I suddenly found an old yellow folder. I opened it and found a 22-page letter that my dad had written to my mother after I was born and after they broke up. That letter changed my whole perspective on everything I thought I knew about my dad, my mom, and my family. I realized that my dad did love me and I realized how much he loved my mother too. He really wanted us to be a family, he tried his best, but some crazy stuff got in the way and eventually, they broke up. After I read that letter I called him and said: “Dad, I need to see you. There are so many things that I’d like to tell you”.
We met and talked for a long time, recalling memories from the past and unveiling things that we never knew about each other. I discovered that my dad was unable to express his love because he didn’t know how to do it. His own parents never gave him any love, he had been abandoned as much as I was. Although that discovery didn’t justify his behavior, I realized that if I really wanted to have a relationship with him, I had to let go of any trace of resentment, forgive him and love him unconditionally.
I believe that Love is the most powerful and healing energy in the world. If fear, anger, and resentment are in the way it is like a river that stagnates; but when it’s unleashed it like a wave that embraces everyone that’s on its path. My wave of Love embraced my dad and my 3 step-siblings, after 33 years we finally reconnected as a family.
For a whole year after that event, my relationship with my dad has been wonderful. One month after I moved to LA, on a morning, his wife called me to tell me she took him to the hospital because he couldn’t breathe. I was only able to talk to him over the phone for a very brief moment to tell him: “Hi Dad. I love you”, he whispered back “I love you too”. The day after, he was gone forever.
There are so many things I didn’t manage to tell him. We had planned a dad-daughter date on my return to Italy that never took place. In the beginning, it felt like he had abandoned me again but now, I’m grateful that I at least got a chance to get to know him and understand that Love can take many different forms. And I’ll love him forever.
’Til the next one!