What It Feels Like To Forget

By Madison Shepard // As Told to Alexandra Rapp

They were arguing again. How could I take it? Every time he was home, they argued. The arguing didn’t even make sense. It was stupid, taking out the mail shouldn’t be that hard, they didn’t need to argue all the time. I couldn’t stop it, I couldn’t get them to stop it. It was just so loud.

They were shouting again. Where could I hide? Not the kitchen, I would still hear them. Not the dining room, they would be able to see me.

My room, my closet. They wouldn’t find me there. I could hide. I just wanted help with homework, not this.

Why couldn’t they just get along?

My father works long and often; I’d say between 70 and 80 hours a week. Like three times the average work week: 12 hour days, that kind of thing. Industrial Revolution amount of hours. When I was younger he was never ever around, and when he was around, he was fighting with my brother, and they would scare me.

As far back as I can remember, when I can remember him, he was a manager at a company in Antioch. He went to work every day, and worked from home sometimes, but not often enough. Then we had to move houses and he got a new job, with even more hours than the old one,  and he was there every single day. Every day of the week, every other Saturday. On Sundays he was supposed to be off, but he still chose to work to get overtime and support our family.

Our relationship in three words: simple, timid and awkward. It’s almost like your first middle school dance in sixth grade when you go with the first guy who asked you. If I could change something about it, I would want to make myself more willing to talk, because even now I find our relationship very awkward when neither of us know what to say, probably because we never saw each other; I don’t know anything about him.

Even though I know that we don’t have a typical father-daughter relationship, I don’t think it really matters. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as a typical father-daughter bond. I feel like our dynamic is unique to us. I’m not angry that we have what some people would consider an odd dynamic. I know that even if something had been different earlier on, like if he didn’t work as much or I actually saw him, it would be the same way just because of how we are. We’re just very same-minded. We don’t talk a lot to anybody, so it makes sense that we don’t talk a lot to each other. Dads and daughters are so diverse that there’s no right or wrong type of relationship for them to have.

When I was younger, I was angry at him for not being around. Not anymore though, now I understand that he was working so hard and doing what he did so we could have a house, and that we could pay the bills; I don’t resent that. I appreciate the fact that he put in so much effort. I think I just didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why he wasn’t always there, why I couldn’t hang out with him when everyone else was talking about how much fun they had with their dads and all their great bonds. Looking back, I know the anger was just because I was young and I get that now. I understand why he did it. It’s not like he enjoyed working, but he willingly did it because he knew he had to get paychecks; he had to work for our family.

Since my dad was gone often, he really didn’t get much of a chance to shape my personality. I think that parents are a big part of who you are. Even if they’re gone as much as my dad was when I was growing up, you’re always going to have a piece of them, whether you remember that piece or not. As much as you might try to break free of your parent or become different, you can’t. That’s hard, I don’t have as much of my dad in me as other people have in them.

One of the worst things about people is their ability to forget. Even if it’s not the entire person, you can definitely forget parts of people. There’s always room to forget something, especially about a person. Even if they were, at one point, the most important person to you, if someone is gone long enough, you start to forget little things. It might not seem like much: small things like how long their fingertips are or the way that they had to tap their fingers when they were nervous; however, these little pieces of a person add up. You can’t put together a puzzle without all the pieces.

These things, the puzzle pieces, weren’t things I just forgot about my dad, they were things I never knew in the first place. How long his fingertips were, the way that he might have had to tap his fingers when he was nervous, the way he said certain phrases, even just how many cups of water he had to drink during the day.

It’s impossible for me to forget what I never knew about my father in the first place.