I am a coward. And a lousy liar. This is a highly ineffectual combination of traits when the phone rings and it's my father on the line. I do wish to have some sort of resolution where he is concerned. But I avoid it. In other areas of my life I am a firestorm of confidence and accomplishment. I make things happen, I get things organized, I check things off the list. But I know that when I hear his tremulous old man voice coming through the wire that I am helplessly reduced to childhood. He will say, Carla Jean, is that you? and I will reply, hey, Daddy. Then we will chat about essentially nothing for usually ten to twenty minutes, say goodbye, and hang up. I have had deeper conversations with public broadcasting fundraising volunteers. The thing is, I'm a terrible liar in all aspects of my life. Especially when it comes to emotional issues. The truth often blurts right through even when I'm making every effort to be circumspect. I'm a crier and tears are a dead giveaway that I'm being honest. When I do lie, I'm so very certain that I'll be found out that my insides wrench up. I flop sweat and my mouth gets dry and my throat closes up. I wait for lightening to strike me dead out of a clear blue sky. Not to mention the enormous psychological price of having to keep track of a lie and be consistent in its rendering. Please don't ask me if your butt looks big in those pants. If my words say one thing my face will tell the truth. The fact of the matter is that my father is a stranger to me. There have been years when we have fallen out of contact altogether. I no longer feel any sort of connection to this eighty year old man who is living in a camping trailer parked on his nephew's farm in Mississippi. Even the futile exchange on the phone feels like a sham. An agreed upon perpetuation of the mendacity that is deeply rooted in my juvenescent brain. An hour ago when the phone rang I asked my son to lie for me. To tell my father that I was out grocery shopping. I know I should just bite the bullet and make a decision. Pick up the phone and do the usual or tell him I'm done. One thing is certain, I need to stop asking my son to lie for me. I have no right to demand his complicity. My estranged relationship with my father is my burden, not his.