Today I spoke with my estranged father for the first time in two years.
The back story, briefly, involved dad feeling like my sister and I didn't appreciate him or respect him, and resulted in him telling us he didn't want us in his life anymore. I respected his decision and made no effort to talk to him, until this week, when it was discoverd that I had some savings bonds that needed his signature.
I called him last week, and explained it, and he agreed to meet me today at the bank to sign them. I had no idea how it would go. Would he back out at the last minute? Would he be an ass to me? Fortunately, my fears were soothed when we got into the bank and actually had a pleasant conversation. He asked me about my upcoming wedding, I asked him about his job situation. Nothing angry on either of our sides.
After we got done at the bank, we stood outside and talked for a few minutes. Then dad did something I never would have expected: he gave me his email address, gave me a hug and told me he loved me.
Two years ago, he wanted nothing to do with me. Today, he said he loved me.
I know it doesn't make up for the past, but damnit it felt so good hearing that. I know it will be a long road to reconciliation, but you have to start somewhere, right? Regardless, my father reminds me of Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars. A good man (dad pre-anger), then he turns to the dark side and becomes Darth Vader (dad during the two years we didn't speak), and now, he's close to being like Anakin after throwing Palpatine over the edge. I think Luke's line to Leia could really apply here: "There's still good in him, I know it."
However, this whole issue with my dad has really motivated me to become a great father. I remember all the fun I used to have with my dad: I got to go see his work office a ton of times (he was in the Navy, and big jets and ships are awesome!), he always used funny voices when reading books to us, and he could beat the last four levels of Super Mario Brothers with his eyes closed!
Dad was awesome. And that's the father and husband I hope to be someday: I want to be the Mike Faber of yesteryear! I have so many good memories of my dad (including matching tattoos!) that it would be impossible to be a dad without thinking of him and being inspired by him.
Kids scare me, they really do: the idea of someone looking to me to become a responsible contributer to the good of society is a sobering thought, but I imagine it will be amazing to do the things with my children that I loved so much about my own father.
I just hope he's around to see me use his good material.