Hi, Ghost Dad

Bring Your Dad to Work Day, 2017

I’m writing a lot about my family these days, and it’s tough to reckon all I think I know with what the actual facts are, once I dive in deep and really remember. I’ve been digging through photos and old diaries, and I also spoke with my older brother at length about what he remembers from his vantage point–growing up away from our father, in Israel, with his mother and the family she built afterward. Digging into my childhood has been hilarious and sad and lonely and brings up so much embarrassment. I can’t believe I complained to my mother about serving hamburgers for breakfast once, when that was all we had.

I sat my grimy, stinky, overcaffeienated self down and worked through the weekend because Grace was with her dad and I said no to all the fun things that kept coming my way. I got up about 100 times to make tea, to eat snacks, to convince the laziest dog in the world she needed another walk. When I got to a particularly tough point in the story, I got my dad. Not my actual dad. He died 14 years ago today. I took his late-70s author photo off the wall, slid the detritus of my desk onto my kid’s desk, and asked Dad to stay. Asked him to help. For such a wildly imperfect parent (and really, aren’t we all?), he is the person who has loved me the most in my entire life. I’m done trying to replicate that in any way. I’m trying to take love on its own merits now, and that seems to be working.

Dad wasn’t around for so many powerful moments after he died: my moving to L.A., getting pregnant and un-pregnant, marrying, my becoming a mom to Grace, divorce, work, that I got a tattoo for him, and some big news I’m about to spill but can’t yet. He would have been the first phone call for all of those.

This seems as good a time as any to say thank you, Dad. Thanks for still being here, somewhere.

Vanessa McGradyHi, Ghost Dad

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