Memories of my father

when I was a baby
he was never around
he was in the Coast Guard
when I was little I sat
on his big stomach and
ate popcorn
I went grocery shopping
with him every weekend
he took my mother’s paycheck
sometimes he took me
to the casino
when I was 9 I had a fit
at church because I didn’t
want to be there he hit me
on the side of my leg
my parents split
when I was eleven
I wasn’t aware of it
I thought when my mother
said we were moving,
he was coming
I was wrong

Did he try to see us?
yes, he got into a fight
with her boyfriend and that
was the last time he came
there to try

So then
he sent me birthday
and Christmas cards
every year
since then
sometimes he called
I hardly answered
I saw him only on some
holidays at church
as I got older
when my mother passed
he was at my sister’s house
on Thanksgiving and Christmas
to see us

He showed up at
the hospital when I had
my daughter though a few
months earlier I cussed him
out for making a comment
about me being big
— I was pregnant

Was he there when I was
growing up?
Yeah, here and there
when I was a kid
though half the time
he was gone gambling
when I was a teenager, no
I mean good luck for
anyone trying to get to me then

The last time I spoke to
him was the day after my birthday
he was excited to see
my daughter on Thanksgiving
which was cancelled by coronavirus
and cancelled farthermore
by the asshole that
ran him over and killed him
the night before

Sooo, all that gaps
in my life of him not being there
he made some kind of effort
though I hardly saw him
or knew anything about him
he took some interest what
was going on in my life
it’s unclear to me
if someone or something
prevented him from seeing us
besides his dislike of my
mother’s ‘boyfriend’
but you can’t blame him
he’s also told me to
talk to my father
some answers I’ll never get
what the hell happened?

So, now
I’m a parent and
realize time is a gift
if this was my last
moment on Earth
that’s who I’d want
to be with