Calling all Dads!
Father’s Day is a bittersweet occasion for me because my Dad died 11 years ago in the summer. This time of year I spend time remembering the man my father became, the man I miss.
My mission on Father’s Day is always the same: I don’t just won’t to tell you what a great father he was. No, I want to tell you who he really was and what he taught me.
My Dad was an alcoholic. He drank heavily, embarrassingly, from my preteen years until 6 years before his death—over 30 years of booze. My life with Dad was one of neglect and a perceived absence of love. He just was never all there, only bestowing upon me sloppy drunk hugs and other unwanted attentions.
In his sixties facing cataract surgery, he quit drinking. With no help from therapists, Al-Anon, or even us, he simply decided to quit and he did.
He died 6 years later on my honeymoon. When he said goodbye to my new husband and me two days before his death, he let me know I had chosen well this time and he said he was glad I found someone to share my life with. Daddy was not an articulate or educated man, so I was impressed with his words and all the unspoken things he was trying to convey. As it turned out, he knew that night that he wouldn’t see us again.
I miss him terribly. His 6 years of sobriety, coupled with his strong, obvious love for me, was an unexpected healing for me. It had never occurred to me that those 30+ years of absence could be virtually erased, that I could—long after the years of counseling—find what I had been looking for: my daddy.
Discovering that my father loved me, had always loved me, started a set of chain reactions that continue to improve my life today, 11 years later.
By finally having a strong, recognizable male role model in my life, I found and married an emotionally stable, non-addictive, loving man who became my son’s best role model. This man took on the teenage responsibility abandoned by his biological father, just as my son has shouldered the responsibility for his stepdaughter abandoned by her dad.
Between my father’s love and my husband’s love and support, I have been able to provide my son with good parenting, grandparenting and “in-lawing”. I am constantly reminded by own experience that I can be a motivator, a supporter and a loving parent and continue to make a difference in my adult son’s life.
Dads, take it from someone who knows. It’s never too late to love your children; it’s never to late to repair the damage; it’s never too late to heal your children; it’s never too late.
Give the gift of yourself on Father’s Day; let your children know you love them; let your children love you because they do—no matter what you’ve done.