I don’t like Father’s Day. I used to, I really did. Two years ago, though, that ended. I’ve written before about losing my dad in 2016 and how horrible that was and continues to be. It’s just not a great feeling. Right now it’s about a week before the anniversary of his death and there’s something rattling around in my head that I’ve never really talked about before.

My dad died thinking I was mad at him. That’s a horrible thing to live with. What makes it even more difficult was it couldn’t be further from the truth.

The last months of my dad’s life were not good. After a fire wiped out practically everything he owned in October 2015, he wasn’t the same. Who could be? In his 60s, he was being forced to start from scratch. He was lost in that reality and couldn’t find a way out. Every time I saw him after the fire, he seemed to be getting worse and worse. He started drinking more to forget–and to numb the pain is his various ailments–and just couldn’t bring himself to do anything about his situation. It hurt me to see it.

I had been up north visiting a few weeks before Father’s Day 2016 and was able to spend some time with him and he was at his lowest yet. He didn’t know how to cope and I felt had given up. The conversations we had weren’t the same. The sense of humor we shared was absent in him. He was sad, angry, and scared.

When I left, I hugged him and told him I love him. He said the same, called me boy, and I told him I was hoping to come back around father’s day. Our family isn’t big on gifts for father’s and mother’s day. Instead, it was more about trying to spend time together, if possible. Always talking on the phone if not.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to come back up for that Father’s Day. Instead, I called–at least, I tried to call. I tried to call multiple times that day but just couldn’t get through.

My dad lived in the mountains, in an area where phone service–cell or landline–could simply disappear for days at a time without warning. This was one of those times and I never got to tell him Happy Father’s Day. 10 days later he was dead, which I’ve said plenty about before.

However, it was a trip up the mountain to clean out his place that really cut me to the bone. When visiting a friend of his and my mom’s, she mentioned that my dad was sad I didn’t call on Father’s Day. He thought I was mad at him.

I agonize over this so often. I know it’s not my fault, I know it was just the universe being an idiot. But I can’t help but think about how my dad died believing I was mad at him. It really makes me hate Father’s Day.

That could change one day, should I ever be a dad. But fuck…I really just don’t like it right now.

And if they have wifi wherever you ended up, Dad. I’m not mad. I never was. I was mad at the fire for taking away so much. Never at you, though. I love you.