My father died in 2005 on my birthday. My memories of him are in conflict so often, on one side I love him because he was my father, and yet on the opposite side there were many times when his influence in my life created pain or disturbing memories.
Now that He is gone I remain conflicted because I want to protect him and leave a legacy to my family and children of all that was good in him while at the same time not doing a dis-service to the truth of what was. In many ways I have an incredible empathy for my Dad, he grew up in home where his father did not show love, because of this he struggled his entire life with how to show love. He and my Mother separated when I was ten years old. I remember my parents sitting my brother and I down to explain how Dad wasn’t going to live there anymore and I ran to my room crying, my brother went outside to play. Both of us wounded in ways that took a very long time to recognize.
For a number of years he would come to see us on Saturday’s always with a plan to take us out somewhere, usually to a Drive-in or to Friendly’s for a meal or ice cream. It wasn’t until many years later I realized that if he didn’t have the money to do something with us then he would say he couldn’t see us for some reason or another. When this realization came to me I would try to plan times for us to just hang out together, fervently telling him that we didn’t have to do anything, that I would just be happy to hang out together and talk. He often would agree until the set time for our meeting and then he would call last-minute and say something came up.
Dad had Diabetes and the years of alcohol abuse finally caught up to him. In the year before his death we finally had some time to talk as his ability to get around on his own was greatly diminished so I had a captive audience. We talked about the years gone by and I realized this man, my father, had many regrets. His greatest gift to me came just a short time before he died, He said, son I am so proud of you… proud of you as a husband and a father, you have turned out to be fine man and one that any father would be proud to call his own.
Those few words had such power in them… looking now I can see that this is something every child wants. Father’s it is so important to pass a blessing on to your children to hand over the baton that says you are flesh of my flesh and you are going to do well, to let your children know that no matter what differences there are between you, you will never be ashamed to call them son’s/daughter’s.
Thank You Dad,