“Did you get the check I sent?”
“Yes,” answered Ivan.
“Good. How’s school?” Dad asked.
“Do you like your classes?”
“Why don’t you change them?”
“I don’t want to,” replied Ivan and took another sip.
“I would if I were you. I mean, who wants to sit around learning dumb things?” Said Dad, in an attempt of lightening the mood.
Ivan said nothing.
Dad stared at him for a moment, then made a gesture as if he meant to say something else but decided against it.
“I liked you better when you ignored me,”
“Don’t say that,” replied Dad, lowering his can.
“You never cared about us. All you could ever give us was money. Why are you even here right now?”
“That’s not true. I always do what I think is best for you and your sister; I never stopped loving you. I’m sorry if it wasn’t what you needed but it’s what I could give”
“If you loved us you would have been there.”
Ivan didn’t like it when his dad tried, it angered him to see how a man thought he could fix years of neglect with a simple “sorry.”
“Listen,” said Ivan, “I know what you’re trying to do but let me tell you it won’t work. So let’s just sit here and pretend we love each other so Mom can get off both of our backs. OK?”
The night simmered down and both men sat there, listening to the remains of the fire crackle away.
“I wouldn’t even be here if it wasn’t for mom,” said Ivan breaking the silence, “I can’t believe how she can forgive you and expect me to forget everything you made our family go through,”
“You never lacked anything, I gave you everything you needed. I wanted our family-“
“OUR family doesn’t include YOU,” said Ivan, cutting off his father.
Dad took a sip and stopped trying.
Ivan stood to leave full of anger and resentment when Martin, his cousin, tumbled in.
“Hey, hey, hey… Where are you coming from?” asked Dad.
“Home. Or, it used to be,” replied Martin, reaching into the cooler.
“I think you had enough,” Ivan closed the lid and sat on it, “what do you mean ‘it used to be’?”
“I got kicked out. He doesn’t love me,” he sat flat on the floor and rested his head in his hands. Dad sat next to him and wrapped his arm around the drunken Martin.
“Yeah, my brother can be a bit tough,” said Dad.
“He doesn’t love me. He’s not a father. All he does is try to buy me.”
“He loves you, we all do,” said Dad. Ivan left to get some water and came back to Martin crying and his Dad lighting a cigarette.
“You have everything you ever wanted. Your father was always the better one with money,” said Dad, after his first pull of the cigarette.
“I don’t care about the money, and that’s all he can give”
“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” Dad stared at his cigarette “you can be pretty tough on him, sometimes. He doesn’t know how to handle it. You know, we didn’t have much growing up; we didn’t need it, but it would have been nice. Our father, your grandpa, was only a truck driver. Anything he owned with wheels was his life, literally. Having a car meant another day food got to be on the table for us. He was an old brew of Men, one of those that show no feelings yet with their voice were able to inspire confidence and trust. He could not give us lots of time or lots of anything, really. He still did everything he could, and we knew it, and we loved him,” Dad stared into the night sky and paused for a moment. Martin had settled down; he and Ivan sat there, listening.
“Did he lend you the car?” asked Dad.
“Yeah,” replied Martin. Dad chuckled.
“Yeah, your grandpa would lend it to us too. Only on very special occasions, though. Your father and I would practice with each other ways of asking to borrow it and possible questions your grandpa could ask. He never said no,” he pulled from his cigarette, “your grandpa only had cars, because he needed them to live, but even that he shared with us. He put his life in our hands, and trusted us enough to let us roam around and take a shot at life. And that’s what mattered,” he stared into his cigarette again. “You see, the material things your dad gives you aren’t meant to push you away; on the contrary, he tries to give you everything in hopes it helps you when he’s no longer around. We didn’t have much, and that didn’t mean we couldn’t do things, it just meant we had a harder time doing them. He knows you can do just fine without money, but he just wants to make it easier for you so you don’t have to struggle like we did. Because it was tough for us, he doesn’t want them to be tough for you. Next time he lends you his car or does something as simple as giving you money, think that, maybe for him, it means much more.”
Ivan and Dad exchanged looks for a second, then his father finished his cigarette.