"Imagine all the people living life in peace. You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.
I hope someday you'll join us, and the world will be as one. "
~John Lennon

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yo, Dad

Hey, Dad, I wonder where you are right now. I believe with my limited earth brain that a spirit lives after the body stops being of use and is put away like an old suitcase.  You and I had an unsettling relationship. Up and down. You were gone almost as much as you were there when I was very young. And then you were gone for good about a year before I was put into foster homes.

The things you liked in your life have been repugnant to me. I did smoke a number of years until I quit cold turkey in 1981. You and I were not very close at that time so I don't know if you even knew I had stopped smoking. I never cared for the taste of alcohol, and I never wanted to be like you.  The times I tried to drink alcohol I was not being true to myself. I was trying to fit in, have friends. Watching you smoking, drinking, being irresponsible and immature prompted me to disappear emotionally as your daughter. At the time, I was not wise enough to understand that your upbringing and the baggage you brought with you into your marriage with my mother were a powder keg in the marriage.  I like to think that you were able to grow some and become a better partner in your next marriage, at least I hope so.

You kept your addictions close to your heart for the rest of your life. Knowing that actually makes me happy that I did not have regular contact with you in my young adult life. I wasn't even forty when you died still smoking and drinking, unable to do without your oxygen or your pint of vodka every day as well as two packs of unfiltered Camels. At the time I didn't even know what state you were living in or who you were married to. I am older now than you were when your head fell into your plate of food for the last time.

The main thing I want to tell you, Dad, is that you made some doozy mistakes and you were a mess of a grown man, but I did know you loved me. I hope I let you know that the times I was with you on your fishing boat or watching you disappear into your booze. I could always disappear without the booze or drugs; it came so naturally to me that in my older years I had to get help to stop doing that and found that is actually called dissociation. You and I were alike after all.

And hey, Dad, I loved you too.

I will be thinking of you this Fathers Day weekend.

Your daughter,


Brian Miller said...

very honest...i think in many ways each dad falls short...i am glad you know he loved loved despite his failings...and that you can say you loved him too..

DJan said...

Your father was flawed, there's no doubt, but you have moved beyond all those childhood tragedies into a mature, smart, and thoughtful person. And he gave you half your genetic makeup, so I too am willing to believe he was a good guy on some level.

Beautifully written and recalled, CiCi. Thank you for sharing it this Father's Day weekend

Jeanie said...

My father was also an alcoholic, though usually functional. He also died young. Like you, I know my father loved me, but I will always wonder what our relationship would have been without the alcohol.

Ina in Alaska said...

Wow, powerful post.

I terminated my relationship with my dad after he left my mother for another woman (he is now married to her for over 20 years). I found this to be extremely dishonest and disrespectful I have no respect for his wife because she knew he was married when they met. We do encounter each other at family events but I am pretty cool to both of them.

I am pretty bitter and pretty distrustful of men due to this. And I was 30 when all of this came about.

Jeni said...

I never knew my Dad as he died of cancer when I was less than a month old so as a result, I suppose I grew up pulling little traits from the fathers of friends, from my uncles too, over the years, as being things I wanted my kids to have, to know. It's been a long, often difficult road, for my kids to develop a relationship with their dad, who in many ways was a lot like your Dad. I am however very thankful that now -after my being divorced from him 32 years this month now -that my kids have been able to establish a decent relationship, albeit long-distance, with their Dad. He and I even get along fairly well now too on the rare occasions I happen to answer a phone call from him or that he comes east (he's in Nevada; we're in PA) for a visit. Being able to accept one's parent and learn from their mistakes, their shortcomings, is a rough road at times, yes, but really important to finding peace within one's self too though. (I've done that over the years now but with my Mom -32 years gone now too!)

Debby@Just Breathe said...

Love your honestly. I am sure he loved you and knows you loved him.
Sorry it wasn't perfect.((HUGS))

CiCi said...

Brian, for as long as I can remember, I would watch other parents with their kids and soak it in. Of course, as a child, I thought other families were perfect. I am still just as fascinated with the inner workings of families. I have learned I cannot speak for my brother, but for myself and I let go of what I feel I missed out on and instead focus on what I learned and how I am now because of my growth and lessons learned.

DJan, letting go of hurt and disappointment has given me the strength and resolve to accept people as they are not how I want them to be. I do believe that my dad loved me the best he could.

Jeanie, you and I have much in common. Watching a parent living in the alcoholic haze as a way of life is a sad thing for a child, and then when I was around 10 I became angry. One day I yelled at him and it felt good.

Ina, I grew up believing that my relationship with my dad was not based on the relationship between my mom and dad. They fought all the time. As a young adult I would spend time with my dad and my mom would be so upset about that. I just wanted some sort of relationship with him. I am sorry you still have the bitterness to deal with within you.

Jeni, we hear such extremes in our relating our stories to each other in blogland. It is sad that you did not have a chance to know your dad. Did your mom remarry? Was there a dad person for you?

Debby, it was not perfect or even close to happy but it was what it was and I learned life lessons that are a help to me now.

bill lisleman said...

CiCI your reply comment is as good as the post so I'm glad I browsed over after you replied. Very honest emotional post. Good to know you released that bitterness.
"...the strength and resolve to accept people as they are not how I want them to be." - so true

Stephen Hayes said...

Your post is an excellent example of the benefits of forgiveness: you don't forgive someone for their sake, you do it for your own. It's apparent that you have broken the circle of abuse and pain that you were raised with instead of passing it along. You are a remarkable person.

Ms. A said...

The fact that you loved him, in spite of the person he was, says so much about the person you are! Bless you.

CiCi said...

Bill, holding on to resentment is so unhealthy and does nothing positive for either party. My dad had problems but he tried in his own way.

Stephen, breaking the chain is difficult but oh so healthy, isn't it?

Ms. A, yes I did love him with all his faults and learned not to be disappointed by his actions.

Hilary said...

Very touching, CiCi. I'm glad you've grown into the strong, wise woman that you are. I suspect that your father would be very proud of who you have become despite your difficult upbringing.

Heidrun Khokhar said...

Addiction is such a horrible disease because it dishes out pain to such a large circle. It renders families helpless. It's a good thing that you have chosen to be forgiving.
There are no perfect fathers. Even those who appear to have good relations have their disagreements.
Brave post. Hugs