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Monday, September 8, 2008

The Love of a Father

Been thinking about my Dad alot lately. I mean more than usual. This November it'll be 8 years since he passed away. My Dad was 46 years old when he died, and it seems wrong somehow. I feel cheated. I feel cheated that he wasn't at my wedding, that he wasn't at the birth of my child. He won't be here to see all the amazing things that Steven, who is named after him, is doing-will do.

There was a time when he looked at me and said," Your mother wants to kick me out of the house. What do you think of that?" and my reply was "Where's your suitcase, I'll help you pack."

I don't remember much about my childhood, except that I was a very morose young girl. I always had my nose in a book, able to relate much more with the characters I found there than with the kids at school. Now that I look back on it, my dad was one of those "no good" guys your mother always warned you about. My mom was pretty meek when she was younger (Now the poor guy who gets her order wrong in a restaurant better beware) but back then she didn't know how to stand up for herself. My Dad told her she was going on a date with him... when she said she thought they needed to break up he threatened suicide. They got married because she was pregnant and didn't know what to do about it.

We moved around more times than you can count on two hands, and probably your feet because Dad couldn't hold a job. He didn't like people telling him what to do.

The first few years of my parents marriage weren't happy for mom. I know this because she told me. She told me how he used to party and got her into the party scene. (I do remember sneaking down the stairs one night to see him and his friends smoking pot and watching porn) He had an anger problem and thought he could intimidate her to do what he wanted her to do. It worked in those first years. He thought he could intimidate his children too. We had a board sanded and lacquered at least three times with my name burned into it on one side and my brothers on the other. It hung on the living room door knob as a constant reminder to behave ourselves.

When I was a teenager the intimidation didn't go over so well with me and when I spoke to him at all it was usually to fight with him. Soon our arguments turned to dead silence or actual fist fights (he's the one who taught me how to fight so he can't blame me for that!)

But these are not the memories that I have of my father when I think of him. I remember that he was smart enough to realize that when his kids didn't want him around something must've been wrong. The minute we said that, it was like a 180 degree change in him. He didn't fight. He asked us what was wrong and actually listened to the answer. He stopped trying to intimidate us and taught us to think for ourselves, to defend ourselves, to become independent adults.

So when I think of my father, I don't remember that for most of my life he made mistakes. When I think of my father, I remember his smile, his laugh. I remember how when he wouldn't stop bugging us about giving him grandchildren, he laughed so hard he was brought to tears when one Christmas we gave him a baby doll at the dollar store. i remember how loving us wasn't enough. When he finally learned to love he included over 50 foster children who came in and out of our home. (And when I say children I mean teenagers who were so out of control, if they didn't make it in our home they were on their way to residential treatment-But that's a post for another day.)

When I think of my dad, I remember that he loved us enough to change.


Travis Erwin said...

I've had issued with my dad for years. He has changed somewhat but I haven't managed to be real forgiving. I give both you and your dad credit for changing.

Crystal Phares said...

I'm sorry you are hurting. I'm here if you need to talk.

Live and Learn the Hard Way said...

It's difficult to carry with you the realization that your parents are human, especially at such a young age, but good to know that they love you enough to look at themselves with new eyes and to try to effect a change to make things better. I lost my Dad five years ago this past November; he was by no means a saint, but my memories of him, the ones I chose to hold onto are some of my most precious. Hang in there.