I just got off the phone with my dad and I can’t stand him more than ever. That’s not good to say. I know. I will have to get over this and I will have to forgive him and I will have to move on. But right now I am so upset. He’s so selfish and just defends everything he did (or didn’t do) and acts like he did the absolute best he could do. I won’t say that I was the best child in the world. I am probably one of the worst children in the world. Oh, wait. That would be the typical child. Apparently he thinks that he spent 18 years trying to have a relationship with me. I remember it very different. I am so upset! He like had an attitude with me about what I said and told me that he stopped calling because when I was younger (childhood to early teens, no less) I wasn’t interested in talking to him. I was A FREAKIN KID! You gave up on me because I was a KID? What freakin KID wants anything to do with her parents???? You gave up on me for being a typical teenager! God, seriously?! But aside from that, I was shocked to hear him say he STOPPED calling since I don’t remember him ever calling to begin with until after I had called and called and called and left message after message with his wife. Did I say any of this? No. I have no idea why but I didn’t even want to argue about it. I could tell he was going to remain in his own little world and that nothing I said had gotten through… nothing even penetrated the surface. OK let me back up. I sent him a letter telling him how I felt. A long letter. A very long letter. Matter of fact, here it is:
It’s hard to find words on the phone… it seems as though all the thoughts are there, but I can’t make sense of any of them through a telephone. There are a lot of things I feel have been left unsaid for years… As a matter of fact, there is probably more unsaid than has actually been said… a lot of things I have bottled up and kept under wraps… a lot of things that would haunt me if anything were to happen to you. I harbored a great deal of hatred, anger, and resentment toward you for a long time. I always had a piece of me missing, and I could never find the confidence that I craved. This time of year, I always remember how hard my mom always struggled to get us the things we asked for… and then I remember watching her struggle to pay for it all in the following months, stressing and planning to start putting back money for the next year so she wouldn’t have to do that all over again; but there never was enough money to put back… and “next” year always came too soon… Even when we would walk to the grocery store to save gas money instead of driving or eat at my grandma’s to cut back on the food bill… it just never was enough. Did you ever have a clue how hard it was??
Eventually I got tired.. I got tired of calling and calling and never being called. I got tired of hoping and wishing and waiting. I just got tired of feeling empty and being reminded that I didn’t matter. I still don’t understand why you weren’t interested in my life. I still don’t understand why I always have to call you. I still don’t understand why I am 24 years old and have never really known my father. I am closer to your wife than to you. I love Camille; I feel like I know her… I feel like she cares to know me. She pays attention and she shows an interest. I have never felt that from you. As much as I used to hurt over our lack of a relationship, I think it hurt me even worse to know that you had two other children that never knew what it was like to be without you. It hurt me to know that I love music and I love to sing, but your daughter had every opportunity I never had. Erika is beautiful and talented, sweet, and she SO deserves everything wonderful that has happened in her life. Still, it makes me a little sullen because my mom ran a single parent household… she didn’t have enough money to buy me many clothes, or get braces for my teeth, or get me music lessons… she raised me and gave me a solid foundation and everything that I needed, but she couldn’t give me you… and she couldn’t take your place, and no matter how many jobs she had (she always held more than one) and how much she juggled and struggled, she could never make up for what she lacked from being alone to care for us – she never could be two people. But you were never there, and I never understood. Ironically, I always loved you, though even when I was angry… and I still have that little girl in me that cries for the daddy she never had…
One of my friends lost her father this year and it brought back a lot of emotions from when I lost my PawPaw. He had always been my “father”… he had been the one who I shared all my memories with… the one I shared all my tears with… the one I trusted to love me unconditionally. I can still remember sitting in his lap every evening as we watched Pink Panther and the Andy Griffith Show! If I ever want to have a good cry, all I have to do is just close my eyes and see his face. I even cherish the way his face would frown up with disappointment when I did something wrong! I remember all the silly things he used to do to make everyone laugh. I remember how I hated bluegrass music, but I lived for the evenings that his band would rehearse in the living room and I would sit there and watch him play his bass… I loved going with him to Bluegrass Festivals and staying in the camper. I loved riding in his lap “driving” to Mrs. Wanda’s little country store down the road. I loved running with him to the bridge and back in the mornings. I was so proud of him when he would fix someone’s stove or washer or dryer or fridge and not charge them… or when he would fix up an old appliance to give it to someone who needed it… or when he would go around with the Gideons doing prison ministry and passing out Bibles. As I started reflecting on all of this when she emailed me with the news about her father, I realized that I hadn’t even thought of you. And then I was hit again with the realization that I don’t even know you.
It is hard to explain how it feels to watch someone else living the life that you wonder why you weren’t good enough to have, which is how I always felt watching Erika grow up with you in her life. I can count on one hand the times that I remember you calling me without me calling you first. Things like that stick in my mind. I have always really wondered what you are like… I’ve always wondered why you never seemed interested in getting to know me. I don’t think we’ve ever actually had a conversation longer than 5 minutes; you always seem rushed and waiting on the punchline when I call. I grew accustomed to that, so it’s gotten to where the only time I call is when I need something and have no one else to turn to. I don’t like that. I feel like I am using you… I feel like I am obliging you to help me. I don’t think that is the relationship that a daughter is supposed to have with a father. Do you know how old any of my kids are? When any of their birthdays are? Do you have any idea when my anniversary is? I feel like you don’t know me at all… and I feel like you don’t have a clue who I am. That really hurts; it is frustrating and leaves me feeling incomplete.
I watch my husband with our children and I just wonder what it would have been like to have a father like him… he loves them so much, it would kill him to be apart from them. And then I ask myself… how could you just walk away from us? And throughout all these years, it doesn’t seem like you ever regretted it. Then I get confused because you have helped me financially, which you didn’t have to do. So I am left in a mental quandary – you must care; but if you do, why aren’t you interested in knowing who I am? I remember when I was in junior college, I called and asked you for $270 for the rest of my tuition/books. I believe you sent $200 of it… but what struck me is that you never asked what I was majoring in. Isn’t that something you should want to know? Or how my grades are? Something! You flew Kelly to Key West to visit you and Chris… but you told me you would come visit me on your way back to Colorado and you never even called to say you weren’t coming. I didn’t know until I talked to Camille and found out you were already in Colorado. Things like that don’t just roll off, ya know? They hurt. It’s even more disappointing to know that you don’t mind disappointing me, or that you don’t care to see how that affects me.
I appreciate everything you have ever done to help me financially. Please believe that. You have helped me through some pretty difficult times and I am thankful for that immensely. But even though I have needed that, more than anything, I have always needed a Dad. I have always longed for the day when I would pick up the phone and you would be calling just to talk to me. Just to talk. There are so many things that I have been through; so many things that I have accomplished… so many things about me that you just don’t know. There are things about me that you will never know just because some things you have to be around for… some things can’t be shared; they just have to be learned through experience. Those things you missed out on. Most of the time, those are the most personal and important things. I am almost 25 years old… 1 week away, Lord willing… and it still hurts me. It still weighs heavily on my mind, my heart, and my spirit. I just don’t understand. You’ve always had the opportunity. It just never seemed to be a priority. Just in case you want to know, here are some things about me and my family…
My name is Kathleen Anna Robertson, born Kathleen Anna Toler; my mother changed her mind about my middle name so strangely my middle name is JoHanna on my social security card. When I was 7 I was diagnosed with benign osteoid osteoma in my left tibia. I had a large tumor removed when I was 8 – they shaved out about 4 inches of my tibia. I was on crutches for a long time and could not use my leg, which was in a cast from my hip to my toes. When I was 9, I was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, a musculoskeletal, possibly autoimmune disorder which is characterized by generalized pain all over the body and has no known cause other than that it is thought to be a result of increased levels of the Substance P neurotransmitter which carries pain messages through the spinal cord and to the brain… there is no available cure. As a result, I suffer most of the same symptoms as arthritis patients and have most of the same triggers; however it is not an inflammatory disorder therefore the treatment arthritis patients receive is ineffective for me. My pain is typically in my head, neck, back, and legs; sometimes in my arms and hands. I do not generally get into the Stage 4 REM recuperative sleep; therefore I am rarely rested and often fatigued.
My husband is Barry Christopher Robertson, Jr. He is a wonderful man and an awesome father. He turned 26 on November 30th. We were married on June 7, 2001 by the Justice of the Peace in Forrest County, Mississippi and celebrated our 6th wedding anniversary this past summer. As of November 27, 2007 we have been together for ten years.
Our children are Briyana Amaya Robertson… she will be 8 on February 6, 2008; Barry Christopher Robertson, III (we call him Tre)… he turned 6 on September 26, 2007; Talia Jonet’ Robertson… she turned 5 this past Friday (Dec 21st); Avalyn La’Nae Robertson just got into her terrible twos on 9/11 of this year. They are precious, beautiful, active, intelligent, children with strong minds, passionate wills, and determination that often drives me insane! They love Jesus and they all are very compassionate and loving. Briyana loves to read and do homework. She wants to be a doctor. Talia loves learning… no matter what it is, she is always asking questions and soaking up any intelligence that anyone will share with her. She wants to be a nurse and a helper. Tre is a typical 6 year old boy – he thinks he is a power ranger and bounces off the walls with every waking breath. He loves sports and looks up to his daddy… he goes everywhere his dad goes and does everything his dad does. He doesn’t enjoy reading or anything remotely related to academics! We are working on that. Avalyn is the smartest two year old you will ever meet. She has been talking in complete sentences since she was barely 18 months. She can captivate you with her smile and has no problem holding a conversation with an adult. When she enters her daycare classroom, the first thing she says to everyone is, “Hey! How are you all doing today?!” Yesterday, Barry asked her what day it was (thinking she would say Christmas) and she said very matter-of-factly, “Tuesday.” We are due with our fifth child on July 2, 2008. I am 13 weeks along today.
I have my Associate in Arts degree in Accounting from Pearl River Community College. I started college 5 months pregnant with our third child and still graduated as a member of the Phi Theta Kappa international honors society with a 3.49 GPA in less than 2 years. I currently attend Regent University’s online division of their VA Beach location majoring in Biblical and Religious Studies. Barry and I were baptized into the Mount Harmony Missionary Baptist Church family on August 22, 2004 and have been active and involved members since then. I founded StepInFaith Ministry as a devotion website in December 2005 and it developed into a full ministry officially on April 9, 2006. I teach two Bible classes during the ladies’ fellowship meetings for StepInFaith’s Women’s Division each month as well as New Members class at our church every Sunday. I still love to sing and I have a MySpace page with several of the songs I have written www.myspace.com/katrobertson … they’re not phenomenal but they’re mine :)
Barry earned his Associate in Arts degree in Criminal Justice at Pearl River Community College. He then transferred to Louisiana Tech University where he graduated with his Bachelor in Arts degree in Sociology. He is a counselor for the Office of Youth Development in Monroe, LA where he works with delinquent teen boys who have been convicted of various crimes and incarcerated in a youth correctional facility – some of them will remain there until their 21st birthday. This line of work has always been his goal due to many of the circumstances surrounding his childhood and family life. He is also in the process of working with our Pastor to start a group to encourage and build young boys with a Christian worldview through our church. Barry is one of the most driven, dedicated, and hardworking men that I have ever met. One college football article described him saying, “In regards to his hopes of an NFL career, he dreams big and thinks small – about each of his small children at home.” Everything he does is for his family. He has a tryout on January 5th for the All American Football League’s Arkansas team; he has missed two tryouts for that league in the last month – one in Dallas and one in Knoxville – because we couldn’t afford the gas, food, and the hotel room nor the time off from work for him to take the trip; we are hoping that this time, it works out. It looks as though it will and he is determined to get there. We confirmed the invitation last night.
That’s about it. I hope that you don’t take this letter the wrong way. I just am so tired of holding it all in; things I have felt for years have just been festering with no resolution. I just really need you to know that your absence and your lack of effort in forming any type of personal bond with me has affected my whole life. You are my father. I should not have to make all the strides. None of us are getting any younger and tomorrow is promised to no one. Each day that goes by is opportunity lost and I just can’t continue to keep everything bottled up any longer. By the way, after you told me you would call me, I was looking forward to hearing from you on Christmas Day. Thank you for the Christmas money for the kids. The kids got plenty of toys; I will send Camille a link to them once I get them uploaded so you guys can order some if you like. They were thrilled to wake up Christmas morning to the surprise of many presents under the tree. Briyana spent most of the afternoon writing songs about Jesus in her memo book.
God bless you; I hope to hear from you soon.
He called me and kept saying “I know your mother told you bad things about me” and “Your mother wouldn’t let me talk to you for the first three years” blah blah blah (HELLO, you left when I was 5 months old and by the end of the first three years, guess what! I was THREE! What does that even matter?? Would it have mattered to me if I talked to you? Would it have changed anything if you got to talk to me as a toddler? I was like I’ve been out of my mom’s house since I was 17 years old – you have called me TWICE since then without me calling you first. He told me that was not true. Yes, it is. And, I’m about to be 25… Then he has the nerve to say he never forgot a birthday or anything – however, I DISTINCTLY remember CRYING MY HEART OUT because of the fact that he did. So, yeah… you did. So, unless you have another child named Kathleen, you have gotten CONFUSED about just how connected you were throughout my life. Did I say any of this? No. Why? I don’t know. I guess I got the feeling early on in the conversation that this conversation would be like many of the other 5-minute-or-less conversations we have had – all about HIM. Thom Toler and his music. Let me sing you a song so I can hear myself sing and then I will have nothing else to say. Goodbye.
I could have saved every bit of what I said in my letter and took it to my grave because as far as he is concerned, none of it was how things were and he has done way more than most other fathers… I beg to differ. I will never ask him for another dime – apparently it only makes him feel better about himself when he sends it. UGH!!!!!! Yeah, I’ve needed plenty of financial help throughout the years and I am SOOOOOO appreciative that he was willing to help me out, but GOOD LORD I needed a DAD! What was his response to the fact that he was willing to send me $200 of the $270 that I needed for school back in Junior College but never asked me how my grades were or what my major was? Not “I’m sorry” … not anything … just dear old wonderful dad. Dear old always absent, never interested dad. He just basically got mad at me for how I felt. He told me that he’s been through a lot in his life too… this and that… he’s had financial troubles… then told me he had to borrow money to pay for his daughter’s wedding… “I didn’t want to but I just had to because it’s up to the father of the bride to take care of that stuff.” DID YOU HEAR WHAT YOU JUST SAID????????? HELLLLOOOOO??? I didn’t even HAVE a wedding! Where were your responsibilities then??? Where was dear old wonderful dad when *I* got married? Weren’t you the FATHER OF THE BRIDE when I got married?? Oh my GOSH he’s so selfish and wrapped up in his own little life! Then he had the nerve to say that he brought me to Tennessee to see him when he lived in Nashville. ARE YOU NUTS?! I was ALREADY IN NASHVILLE VISITING VERONICA AND MY AUNT MARYANNA!!!!!!!!!! My grandmother and my aunt brought me to TN! NOT YOU! I am so upset!!!!!!!
Then he said that he saved up 2500 every year to come to MS to spend time with me and Kelly and take us shopping. Every year???? Are you serious? Every year for what? 2 years? The first time he did that, was before I had surgery. We were living at Dearborne. He claims that I don’t remember things about waaay back then. Let me tell you what I remember. I remember that we went to the mall… I remember that I picked out his pretty dress that was several sizes too big. It was black velvet on top, came down into a “V” at the waist in the front, and was pink satiny material on the bottom that flowed out. I just HAD to have it; he got it. I thought he was the best dad in the world. The second time, Veronica spent much of that time with us. My dad talked about himself and his kids and he rollerbladed around and flirted with all the women we saw. Yeah. I remember more than you think I do. He acts like he was sooooo strapped for money and every penny he ever sent was such a huge sacrifice. How much did you spend on your other kids? Never missed a child support payment, huh? Until when? How old was I when you stopped paying child support? Let’s not go there. You and your family live in a big nice house! Brand new vehicles… you flew and/or drove back and forth to and from Florida and Colorado all the time… people who are strapped for cash can’t do that. My mom surely couldn’t. You have had the same phone number since as far back as I can remember; how many schools did I go to? How many phone numbers did I have? How many addresses have I had? Don’t try to make me feel sorry for you. Have your children had to go without going to the dentist? I guess not, since Erika had braces. I needed them. Couldn’t get them. I am so upset. He said fathers don’t chase down their kids that’s not how it’s done, hasn’t been since the beginning of time. EXCUSE ME?????????????? That was my last attempt at this. I thought maybe if he knew how I felt, things may change. We may be able to talk about it. He just argued with me and discounted my feelings. And since “fathers don’t chase down their kids” then I’m sure he won’t be pursuing a relationship with me either.
Forgiveness has nothing to do with our relationship – that’s within myself… I can forgive him. But I am done beating a dead horse. It’s gotten me nowhere up until now and it’s obviously not going to get me anywhere because he lives in this fantasy “lie land” where everything he wanted to do right, he has convinced himself that he did! I am washing my hands of it. I am not spending my whole life going back and forth with this. I’ve already spent years waiting on him to realize that it’s HIS place to try. I AM YOUR CHILD! But I suppose now that I have hurt his pride since he’s the worlds best dad, now he wants to challenge me and say he can’t understand why I would say any of those things. I am not angry. I am frustrated. If I was angry, I would be crying. I am not angry. I’m not even hurt. What would I call it?
I am shocked.
I am flabbergasted.
I am at a loss for words.
I am confused.
But hurt? Angry?
I’ve been those things toward him before
At this point, I am just seriously in disbelief.
I feel sorry for him because he lives in a world that is running parallel to the REAL world and obviously he doesn’t allow himself to realize what a sorry human he is and what a piss poor job he did at being a father to me.
I am tired.
I am washing my hands of this.
I waited years to say all of those things.
They are all out in the open … None of that is weighing on me anymore. And none of it even pierced him. He doesn’t care about anything I said because he doesn’t think any of those things are accurate. He has some other idea of what happened. He has spent all these years telling himself he was a great dad and he did all he could do… but he gave up long ago and for some reason, he thinks that is just fine and that it’s not HIM who should want to be in MY life, but ME who should want to be in HIS because PARENTS don’t chase their CHILDREN in his world… CHILDREN chase their PARENTS. Wow. He lives in a much different place than I’ve ever lived. My mom sure chased me for a long time. But then again, that is called CARING which he obviously isn’t capable of doing.
Out of sight; out of mind.
Out of my life.