On Mother's Day, I start a week before with tributes to my mom....pictures, music, words from the heart, sharing lessons and blessings she taught me....which were plenty. So much to say about her. So many memories, laughs and great times.
This Day....Fathers Day....guilt and envy and maybe even sadness consume me because I don't really know how I feel about this day. Don't get me wrong....I love my Dad. And I do believe with my whole heart that he loves me. However, my Daddy doesn't know how to show it. He does in his way. In his timing. As I'm growing older, I'm trying to change my heart and my focus to just that....to accept his love...his way.
My dad grew up with parents who had issues with alcohol for the majority if not all of his childhood. His dad was a musician who played in clubs, and I think dad spent a lot of his childhood either in the back of a bar or home alone with his brother and sister. Thank God for my Aunt Tootie who loved and nurtured her little brothers long before a child should have to become a "mother." And for my Uncle Chuck who came along and saved them all from the volatile atmosphere that alcohol can bring into a relationship. Funny how it can trump everything and destroy even the greatest of loves. I've seen it so many times.
My dad's parents divorced when he was a young teen. I don't really hear many stories of his childhood that are "happy". I'm sure he had happy times. But dad didn't talk about his childhood often. I know he was a great baseball player....a catcher. He was short and fast. But I don't know much more than that.
My grandfather re-married a woman much younger than he (my aunt's age) and they had three sons. He got it right with them. I watched from a distance him being a great, loving father to them. These boys are close in age to me and the few times I was around them growing up, where a lot of fun. Although he rarely said anything, I now understand as an adult that my dad must have harbored some resentment....and deep seeded hurt that he was such a different Father to his second family. In reality, my grandfather learned. My grandfather in some ways got a "re-do", another chance. Most likely the man just grew up. I'm thankful that my three young uncles experienced the man that my dad longed for. But at the same time, I ache for my dad and the abandonment that he and his siblings felt.
Last year, my Uncle passed away, and his three younger brothers, who in all honesty were strangers to us, made their way to pay respects. They came in the spirit of love and family. Because they are family. Each are good men and good fathers. And I hope the road to healing for all of them will continue.
I wanted to explain where I think my dad's heart was hardened somewhat over the years. The man my grandfather ended up being wasn't the man that was a father to my dad. My dad just didn't know how to love. From what I've been told, he didn't have an example of a loving atmosphere or family life.
I was born to extemely young parents. It's safe to say that my existence wasn't exactly "planned." I've heard over fifty times in my life...."My first mistake was being born a girl!" In all honesty.... I felt for many years that in my dad's eyes, my second mistake was being born a girl. My first was being born at all.
Growing up, I don't remember my dad taking much of an interest in me. Now don't get me wrong, he worked ALL THE TIME. Most of my life, he worked shift work so unless he was on the "day shift," I rarely saw him. He was either working or sleeping anytime we were home. I realize now what a provider he was for our family. And I was given anything I wanted and needed to excel in life. Dance lessons, cheerleading (and all the expense that entailed), piano lessons, tae kwon do, softball, church activities, etc. My first car, a college education, pageants, and even dug me out of trouble a time or two. My dad was a provider. And a darn good one.
However, I remember my mom brow-beating him to come to recitals and games. I'm sure he was proud of me, but he always seemed to be bored or irritated to be there. I think he would stand outside smoking the majority of the time, until it was my turn. I get it. I really do....but I always felt that he would have much rather been elsewhere. As a little girl, that hurt.
Dad was hard on me. Mealtimes were awful because it seemed like I could never do anything right. I remember getting a spanking once because I wanted a second helping of macaroni and cheese, and I hadn't finished the rest of my meal. Funny how I can remember that day as clearly as it was yesterday.
I always felt growing up that dad didn't want much to do with me except to punish me or to yell at me for something. As a kid, I really thought he was mean. I don't still feel that way, at all. But I am sad that much of my childhood was spent on pins and needles and walking on eggshells around him. I remember at times being relieved when dad was working because I knew it would be peaceful.
I remember being terrified on the rare occasions he would drink. He didn't drink often, but when he did, he was mean. To my mom, to me, and to my brother. Again. Alcohol. That is why I'm not much of a drinker to this day. I've seen it destroy love. And hurt people.
Please don't misunderstand this as a bashing moment for my dad. He wasn't raised in church. He wasn't led by a Godly spiritual leader of a home. He was raised primarily on love and a prayer by his sister only a couple of years older than he. They were survivors of their childhood....not healthy products of a loving home.
They were forced to grow up way too soon and then bam! I made him a daddy. I get it.
The very first time I ever remember my dad saying that he loved me was on my wedding day. I was 22 years old. Right before he walked me down the aisle, the wedding march playing, he said, "Daddy loves ya!" I will never forget that moment.
Since then, I've grown up. HE has grown up. I know my Dad loves me. I can now look back at the big moments in my life and remember him being there for me. High school and College graduations, wedding, birth of my children, my illness. Times when I didn't deserve it...and he helped me like any daddy would. The man had helped me move and leave a husband (or 2).....more times than I care to admit. Fact is, when the chips are down and I really need him...he IS there.
I don't feel as close to him as I wish. And I realize that I don't make the effort like I should. Part of me thinks that since I'm the child, I shouldn't have to. And he has disappointed me so many times by choosing not to be a part of mine and the kids' lives. I realize that is me being incredibly selfish. I admit it.
Now, everytime we talk, he never ends the conversation without saying he loves me. For us? That is big.
I love my dad. And I am sad for the life he was dealt, which I think set the course for the life he led. I do think he has softened over the years and has felt the grace of God's love. I hope he can find the love of Jesus as he continues to grow older. I hope he makes his children and grandchildren a priority. Sometimes I do feel like he must have felt now that he has a new family. Again, me being sellfish. I am happy that he is happy. I really am. I cherish the few stolen moments we have from time to time. And I so hope to see him soon during Sam's upcoming Senior year. I want him to be a part of it all.
My feelings as a child led me to be the best mother I know how to be. I say "I love you" and I say it often. My kids have a loving father, and many men who have guided their paths in his absence.
Coaches, church leaders, friends' dads, and of course our David. Lots of "fathers" sent to us from our Heavenly Father. His plan really is perfect.
I don't guess I am really the typical "Daddy's Girl". But I'm a believer that love and forgiveness and time and grace....heals all wounds. He was the best dad he knew how to be. I know that now.
I love you, Daddy.