Thursday, June 15, 2017
The approach of father's day almost always fills me with trepidation. I expect this due to the fact that I haven't fully trusted my father since I was ten, and I vowed at the ripe old age of twenty-eight that I would never allow him to make me cry again. I have a few memories from early childhood where I felt safe and protected by him but those feel distant and dreamlike to me now. Then there was this phone conversation when I was in my mid-twenties that sticks with me. Mostly because I rarely spoke to my father during that time, there was what I have referred to as my quasi-annual phone call. There have been a couple stretches of years where I had a general idea where he was living, but no address or phone number, and then the quasi-annual ringing of the phone that I would answer without benefit of caller ID. Hello, I would say, and he would respond is that you, Carla Jean? in his Southern accented baritone. I would freeze like a deer-in-the-headlights for a moment and then we would proceed to talk about nothing for fifteen minutes or so. The one call that I remember containing some substance was when he told me how to find love. Considering his three failed marriages, two of them to my mother, I was doing a fatal eyeroll and holding the receiver at arms length and mouthing whatever! before listening again. Essentially his advice was this, you can chase around that butterfly forever but you'll probably never catch it. If you just sit still long enough, though, it will land on your shoulder and then it will be yours. I thought this was crazily insightful considering his track record and wanted to answer with some smartass retort. I don't remember anything else about that conversation. Just this illuminating moment where despite his failings as a husband and father, I felt as though he had handed me a shiny gemstone that I could keep and treasure. That butterfly has lighted on me a couple of times. And now that I have felt confident and happy on my own for some time, there is a quiet calm within me that is reflected by my exterior self. I'm ready for that butterfly to flutter near enough to land. But at the same time, I know I'll be just fine without it. Sometimes the stillness is enough.