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When I was a young girl, I looked up to my father. I loved him so much, and simply could not imagine life without him in it. He was my hero and best friend. It sounds cheesy now that I am writing this down, but in my isolated upbringing, this was the truth.
I dreamed of him walking me down the aisle. I envisioned him playing with my kids, his grandkids. I wondered what kind of a grandpa he’d be. I would stay awake while I was supposed to be asleep, just so I could sneak downstairs and accompany him when he came home from work to walk our dog for his evening walk. He’d point at the constellations and tell me which ones they were.

We had our Sunday tradition when we would take a tour on the motorbike, just for fun, stopping at our favorite lookout points. The day I looked forward to the most Sunday. Because for three hours, we did not have to deal with the tension at home. The negative atmosphere that surrounded my mother. We escaped. It was just us and the open road. Well, 37 square miles of itsmall island life meant the road was limited, but I did not care. It was our time. I was his precious daughter. Or, so I thought.

Suddenly, things changed. He found an escape from the toxic atmosphere at home. But, he escaped alone. He left me behind to fix the shattered pieces of an already broken person. He left. Started an entirely new life that I was very obviously no part of. Suddenly, he had another young girl on the back of the motorbike, his new girlfriend’s niece. Suddenly, he forgot I existed.

RELATED: When My Dad Left My Mom, He Left Me Too

I don’t blame him for walking away from my mom. She was an extremely difficult person, very broken and very mean. She had her demons to fight, but she was done fighting. I don’t blame him for walking away. But I blame him for walking away from me too. I was no longer a child, I was 18. But does that make it hurt less?

Whenever I tried to tell people how much it hurt or how I missed him, I heard “Oh, but you were an adult. At least he stayed for your childhood.” What does that even mean? Was I no longer a human with feelings or a precious daughter once I turned 18?

Whenever I’d pick up the phone to call, there was no answer. He brutally had me fired from my job because his new girlfriend did not feel comfortable with me working where she worked. What could I do? He was on the management team.

And so, I grieved the loss of my father at the age of 18. He was very much alive, but I seemed dead to him. Years passed, and I found love. I sent him a wedding invitation, and he said he’d come. He never showed up, supposedly forgot the date. Another stab added to my already broken daughter heart.

I gave birth to my first son. He did not visit. He promised over and over that he would come, but he did not. When my son was one, I took him on a plane and flew four hours to meet his grandpa. We stayed three nights on a broken air mattress on the floor amidst his new wife’s shoes. He spent a total of three hours with us. After all, he had to work.

I had my second son two years later. He didn’t meet him until he was already five years old, and once again, I flew his grandkids out to see him as he lived four hours away.

Fast forward to today, my oldest is now 12, the youngest almost 10. My oldest somehow really longs for his grandpa. It’s the only one he has, my dad. And so, we add his number to his WhatsApp on his little emergency phone. I brace myself to catch him when he gets his little heart shattered by the lack of interest coming from his grandpa.

For one or two days, Opa will love bomb. Opa will suddenly shower him with gifts expensive giftssent to our home from the online shop of choice. And Opa will send little pictures of himself and make conversation for a few days. And then, Opa will stop. He will ignore all messages. The “hi Opa, I miss yous” are left on “read” for days, turning into weeks, into months.

Last week I decided to send him screenshots of the number of times he let my 12-year-old talk to himself. And I asked him how difficult it is to send a “Hey, kiddo, I love you too” back to him. Not one time has he said it. And I braced myself for a defensive reaction. I was left on “read.”

RELATED: I Wish My Dad Was a More Involved Grandparent

Three days later, I got a long speech sent about how I must simply understand how very busy he is and how he does not have the time to chat. And I think back on how this man used to be when I was young. How I looked up to him and craved so much to spend time with him.

And it hit me . . . he really has not changed. I had a romanticized version of him in my mind, but the reason I looked forward to our Sunday drives and the reason I’d stay up until he was home to walk the dog was simply because he would always ignore me. He was never home. I cannot remember a single affirmation coming from my father. I don’t remember the words “I love you” or “I am proud of you” ever crossing his lips.

So now, here I am at a crossroads. Once again, I am grieving the loss of my father. The father I thought I had, but I am also grieving the loss of the grandfather I  had hoped my children would have. Do I allow my precious child to continue trying to bond with his grandpa, knowing this might never change? Or do I need to step in and stop it before his heart is as bruised and shattered as mine? Ignore me if you must, but is it really so difficult to love your grandsons?

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