Uzi Peretz explains that although he doesn’t want a relationship with his father, he still loves him.
It’s been over 5 years since I last spoke to my father. He’s tried several times to contact me on Facebook but I am no longer a participant there. Since our real family name is rather unique, it wasn’t too difficult for him to give up looking for me and start pestering the daughter-in-law he will (in all likelihood) never meet. And here’s why …
A lot of things have transpired since the last time we interacted. As you know, I’ve renounced anything and everything having to do with religion. I know this really bothers you but I do not accept someone else’s view of god, jesus, allah, buddah or any other deity in my life anymore; especially yours. Religion was such a source of conflict for me whenever we talked. I’d ask you to stop with the god stuff and you’d act like you didn’t hear me and keep right on spouting your particular brand of nonsense. It would make me so mad I’ve literally screamed myself hoarse after some of our phone calls. I’d be just as pissed at myself (for my reaction) as I was at you while I deleted one drunk, belligerent message after another.
The specifics of what actually happened in the 15 years from when I left until your parents died 5 years ago becomes less important every day. So imperceptible are any negative feelings about it that I am probably writing you this letter about 3 years too late. It is the following (completely rhetorical) questions that led to my decision to end our relationship and I hope someday you will forgive me.
Did you really leave your parents penniless and alone? Did you really manipulate your mother into allowing you to resell their property multiple times only to squander their grandchildren’s’ inheritance on booze and smokes? What about all the money I sent you to take care of them? Did you ever stop drinking? Did you ever challenge your beliefs on religion or where they stem from? Will you ever be happy? Is there something medically wrong that can be fixed with some type of therapy or drug? Did you ever check? If there was, would you even want it?
The answers no longer matter, and not just because I know the answers. I realize that it was all just my desperate need to control and change people that caused the biggest conflicts inside me. After the judge awarded me legal guardianship, I had access to all their financial documents. It really hurt when I asked you specifically about where the money went and you lied to me about it. Regardless of whether you chose to lie or if you were just so messed up you believed the lies were true, getting you to admit what happened started to consume me. I realize it doesn’t matter because it was never your issue, it was mine. The paradox is not really whether or not I could have handled it differently (I could have) but would I have come to the same conclusions if I had. It reminds me of the Matrix; as many things in this world do. The Oracle tells Neo not to worry about breaking a vase (which he promptly breaks—then apologizes for). The Oracle then says, “What’s really gonna bake your noodle later on is would you still have broken it if I hadn’t said anything.”
I’m truly sorry for being such an arrogant, judgmental prick about that whole situation and about your shortcomings in general. For a long time, I put my own life and happiness on hold because I was focused on trying to fix other people instead of learning how to fix myself. Don’t get me wrong, it was way easier to blame you and find fault in the things that you did (or didn’t) do instead of rooting around in my own shadow for answers. I hope you can find (or have found) the patience, understanding, truth and happiness that I have. It is all I hope for anyone in the world nowadays, especially for the people I love. And I love you, Dad.
Finding my own way to reconcile the past was crucial for my well-being and for my story to come out properly. I’ve been writing down my journey and am fast approaching having to put some of our worst times into words. Before I do that, I needed to verbalize just how thankful I am for the experiences we shared (no matter how painful they were). You promised me the world before I came to live with you back when I was just 13. I believed everything you told me for more than half of my life. I’ve tried many times to come up with the words to describe what it was like to have you in my life and I’m finally ready to succeed.
At any given time you were always an overwhelming, hypocritical combination of proud, loving, absent, overbearing, religious, supportive, belligerent, drunk, depressed and judgemental. You probably have no idea how hard it was to go through adolescence in that kind of environment. I’d be surprised if you remember enough of those days to admit any of it but it wouldn’t make a bit of difference anyway because it’s my truth, my experience, my cross to bear if you’ll indulge me the religious metaphor. I think I’ve earned at least that much. After all, I’ve spoken in tongues, got baptized in some guys (not very clean) backyard Doughboy and even helped start a church.
I’ve become very aware that I know absolutely nothing about what you were going through in your own life either. Your relationship with your parents and with my mother and all the things that made you behave the way you did are still a mystery to me because I never stopped worrying about myself long enough to ask. I’m sure there were many things about me that could have been better or different too. I didn’t turn out to be the respectful, obedient son you’d hoped for so I’d expect a similar, laundry list of negative adjectives if you were writing me a letter. Of course your medium of choice was usually a hostile voicemail. I still have the last one you left me just in case you have trouble coming up with the words to express your displeasure with me. My Mom actually thought there was hope for us until I played her that message. Apparently, she thought I was embellishing all these years. It’s hard for people to take your side when you ramble about what a piece of shit you think your son is. Drunk, hostile and mean—it was never one of your best combos—but I forgive you. I know you didn’t mean it. And even if you did, that’s okay too. I still love you.
I’m not writing any of this to be cruel or criticize you although it might seem that way. Please try to continue with an open mind because this is my way of moving on and I hope it helps you move on too. After reading your last attempt at communication, it occurred to me that perhaps the idea of a miraculous reunion is something you think is still possible. If that’s true, I am sorry to disappoint you—again. I’ve also considered there might be a lot of hurt, sadness and resentment in your heart about everything that’s happened and those emotions could be preventing you from facing your own demons. You’ve spoken many times about how sorry you were, how you failed as a father (and a husband) and how you wished things turned out differently. Regrets can be consuming. You know I used to try and be nothing like you? I’d write down all the things you ever said or did and chastise myself when I slipped up. I finally realized that I want to be all the best parts of you—especially the drummer part—I suck at that part though. And considering how much I love music, it’s a real bummer too.
Maybe one day you can teach me how to play but not anytime soon. The Universe is a crazy, random place though and I certainly am not pretending to predict the future. I just really hope you have come to terms with your own greatness and are taking (or have taken) the steps to overcome the bad stuff. If you haven’t, there is still time left for you to get it right, have a new family of friends, make your own amends, find love for yourself and others and die a happy man. Perhaps you’ve already done some or all of those things (except the dying part of course). I sincerely hope so. You deserve it.
I also hope this letter reaches you with all the heartfelt love and acceptance with which it was written and always remember, “every passing minute is another chance to turn it all around”.
I love you Dad.
Photo: sara biljana/Flickr