As Fathers Day 2012 comes to a close I am moved to write this post after returning home from a celebration for the dad’s in our family and checking my e-mail. In it I found a post from a blog I follow, “Candid Concourse” and it reminded me of the many years I spent longing for a relationship with my dad.
Dad was tall, handsome, smart and aloof. He had unbending rules and expectations and a complete lack of warmth to balance them. Gradually over the years I withdrew and hardened my heart to protect myself from the hurt. Dad never physically abused me and he provided for all my needs, home, food, schooling, When it came time for me to go to college he told me what I needed to take to be successful and make a living, when I resisted he told me how foolish I was and that I’d never amount to anything if I followed that path. Before the end of my first semester I eloped with my boyfriend and took the road less traveled, the “hard row to hoe”.
For the next 40 years our meetings were brief and cool, when my husband was lost in Southeast Asia he turned his back on my children and me and told my mother “he couldn’t be a husband to me”‘he avoided my kids’ birthday parties and any other family events I invited him and my mother to and I became more and more determined to succeed, to show him. During those years after my siblings and I had all left home he divorced my mother and remarried which widened the chasm between us. She was devastated. She had been stay at home mom and wife for 35 years, how could he?
About six years ago his second wife developed dementia and failing muscle strength until she became uncommunicative and bedridden. I started visiting him from time to time and gradually we got to know each other. We had great conversations about saving the planet and humanity. He had become much more sensitive to the injustices and ignorance in the world, the failings of organized religions and the apathy prevalent in the general population. Finally we had found common ground! One evening after a couple of drinks he told me he knew he had never been a father to me and knew he had not been there for me and was sorry. I was taken by surprise, I never expected anything like this, I had forgotten about the father who had failed me, before me was a completely different person, someone I respected and had a rapport with and loved dearly. I told him he was right, he had failed me but in that failure he had enabled me to become the person I am today and that I was grateful for that and for the relationship we now had.
I am so thankful for the five plus years we had at the end of his life. We stuffed a lifetime of father/daughter into that time and it was delicious, invigorating and satisfying. We “solved” many of the worlds problems, shared jokes, politics and music. Thank you Dad, you’re the best, better late than never, I miss you terribly!