Today is the 14th anniversary of my dad’s passing. This day used to upset me a great deal. I finally got used to the idea of him being gone. I got used to the fact that we’d never be able to go back and be close for a longer period. We got very close after he became ill and it made me angry that we had wasted all of the years before that. Really, that he had wasted all of those years. I’m not angry any longer. That’s just a waste of time and energy.
My dad was basically a good man. He did the best he could with what he had, just as most of us do. His father was not a good role model. His mother passed when he was young. His father was not always around for him and his sisters and brothers after their mother passed. So, providing for his family was number one in his book. More important than anything else and I do mean anything. He was a good provider. He started providing to the best of his ability when he was a kid of 14 or so. Maybe even younger. He was the oldest brother and there were hungry younger kids in the family. He and his sister Joan tried to make sure everyone had food and that it was cooked and fed to them. He went into the Navy at a very early age. He got married at 19 to my mother who was 18 at the time.
He worked nights and weekends. He went to Vietnam to work for a newspaper during the war because he could make more money there than here in the States. I was eight years old. My parents divorced when he returned. I was ten then.
No one in his family ever wanted for anything that they truly needed when he was around. At least not if he agreed that they needed it. That sounds snotty and that’s not the way I mean for it to be. It’s just that if he didn’t think it was a necessity, he wasn’t going to help you get it with his hard earned money.
Daddy was always good at telling me that he loved me. I don’t know that I always believed it, but I did love to hear it and I loved that he could say it when so many people find it difficult to say those three little words — “I love you” can change a life.
My dad could never remember my birth date. He was forever getting my birthday and my sister’s confused and mixed up. For instance mine is January 7th and Teresa’s is June 16th. He’d call to wish me a happy birthday on January 16th. This was not the worst thing my daddy ever did though. He used to pit my sister and I against each other. It was his way of trying to get us to do better in certain areas of our lives — pointing out how well the other was doing — was to him, telling us that we were just as capable of doing that well ourselves. It didn’t work that way though. Not at all. I can’t speak for my sister here but, I ended up feeling dumb and not trusting my intelligence. It’s taken me almost 50 years to start believing that I am indeed smart. That I am talented. That I can learn and even teach.
Daddy and I talked about this before he died. He lived on our land from October until he died on December 1st. We spent a lot of time together. I took him to dialysis twice a week and my sweet Aunt Joan would take him on Saturday to give me a little break. I cooked for him and cleaned his little travel trailer. He had a lot of bad days, but we had a lot of good times during those two short months. We got to know each other for the first times in our lives. He was truly saddened to know that his actions had affected me in such a way. I know in my heart that if he had known another way to encourage us, he would have, but he didn’t have the first idea of how to begin.
Looking back over this, I’m amazed at the things I’ve shared with you all. You see, my dad was an alcoholic and that didn’t even seem important in this posting. Wonders never cease.