Father’s Day Remembrance of My Dad

Dad changing weeks-old me. I feel like there has got to be a “stubby” (old-style beer bottle) somewhere, just out of camera range. Photo taken sometime in August 1959.

My dad has been gone for I think about 20 years now. He tried to be a good dad despite the deck being stacked against him but his demons got the better of him, especially in later years. The rest of the family experienced the brunt of this as I was already out of the house when his drinking got bad. I only witnessed snippets of what my sisters and my mom had to endure, and that was awful.

The dad of my childhood was my shining star – patient, loving, just, wise and good. The dad of my teen and adult years was prejudiced against others; domineering; tortured; addicted to food, coffee, booze and cigarettes; and often downright scary. He was the poster child for a hurtin’ unit. And boy, did he know how to hurt others – especially my mom and sisters; especially when he drank. How did he lose his way so badly?

I know he witnessed things during the German occupation of the Netherlands in World War II that no human, let alone a child, should ever have seen. He lost his own dad while he was very young and then his mom remarried and this changed his life forever in so many ways. But Dad never talked about his demons and he hated to admit any weakness or that he needed help. He lived a life of denial.

I loved him and it broke my heart when I grew older and realized he was not the dad I thought he was and that we didn’t even share the same values anymore. Did we ever? We must have, or how did I come to value honesty, hard work, helping those in need, being accepting of others, and keeping an open mind? It didn’t just come from Mom. My childhood self remembers that Daddy instilled these values in me too.

I could see the dad of my childhood return when he interacted with my kids. He started to calm down a bit once he retired from full-time work. He stopped smoking and seemed more at peace, at least on the surface. But then he died suddenly of a heart attack at 63 –  the result of years of abusing his body and genetic predisposition.

Now –  with what I have learned by this age about human nature and failings – I often wish Dad was still around, so I could talk to him about what was eating him up inside…and show him compassion and love…and forgiveness for the deep hurts he inflicted on his family.

But that will never happen. And now and forever, I will never really know him.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestby feather
Labyrinth

I understand more then you know. My dad had his first heart attack at age 42, and his final one (after two others) at age 52. He was a rage-aholic but I loved him dearly. From a family of four, I’m the only one with fond memories of a man who died when I was 21.

One thing I’ve learned as I’ve aged, is that the road of parenthood can be hard and it has given me better understanding of his demons, but also a sadness that he succumbed to them and couldn’t rise above. Many times I’ve wished that he was here to give me advice, especially when dealing with work related choices, but I also know that he and I would have had a lot of fights because I would have demanded answers from him, and he wouldn’t know how to answer those.

I remember him for what he was, a flawed man, but one that was a product of his time – born in a famly of four, living in deep poverty in Louisiana, raised by an elderly, autocratic man who was gased in WWI and by a neglectful mother. We could have been worst off – my cousins raised by his brothers were.

Widow Badass

Thank you for sharing Becky. My dad was full of rage too and the drinking let that loose, and it rained down on his loved ones. I think I am the only one in my family too with fond memories, now that Mom is gone.

Green Global Trek

Such a touching photo and heartfelt post. So well written and so much transparency on your part. It is great that you have come to terms with the reality, the image, although loss of course is always challenging.

My own father is the sweetest kindest man, now 92 – could not harm a fly.

Peta

I'd love to hear from you. Let's chat!