Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ode to my Dad.

  My Dad left us too soon.  It will be 16yrs this November since my Dad passed away.  It doesn't really seem like that many years.  I remember him as clearly as if he were here yesterday. 
    Of course the pain of missing him has subsided somewhat with the distance of time, but missing him never ends.  It is
more then missing him, it's what he is missing that gets me the most. 
   My Father loved children, not just his own, but he had a soft heart for all kids.  I know that he would be reveling in the mountain of grandbabies.   Once he got past his concern that we were married too young, having kids too young and not financially secure in any way.  I know that one look at that little baby boy, almost 14yrs ago, would have melted his heart into a bubbling bowl of mushy baby love.
     My Dad wasn't always the best Dad.  He was an alcoholic who quit drinking when I was 8.  He left my Mom when I was 9.  We saw him once every 2- 3mons.  Maybe it was more then that, I was young and it felt very long between visits. 
   When I was 12 he moved closer to us.  We were able to see him every other weekend.  It was during these years that I believe I got know him, to understand the man my Dad was. 
   He was the first born son after 4 girls.  Number 5 in a family of 10 kids.  Growing up in a Christian home, he was often frustrated with what he felt like was a lack of answers for his questions.  The only answer for sin he was given was hell, and actual life consequences where not discussed.  At 16yrs of age he quit school and left home.  He went clear across the other side of the country.  He broke his mother's heart.  He felt that he was breaking her heart anyway with his life choices, he didn't want to do that any more. 
   He started his new life out west in the big city.  He got a job in forestry and moved north.  Some years later at 28 he got married to my Mom.  He was already the father of 2 children that he didn't know.
   I don't know when his self-hatred began.  Perhaps it started with the belief that he broke his mother's heart.  Or the very strained relationship with his father.  I do know that the woman and son he left behind compounded that condemnation, and the little girl he later found out was his. 
  I was born when he was 32, the first born for him and my Mother.  The first time he stayed to raise his child.  2 years later my little sister was born. 
   His drinking worsened with the years, and life became more and more chaotic. 
   When I was 5yrs old my Mom took my sister and I back east to meet our family there.  My "new" aunties lathered love upon us.  Our Grandparents were so happy to finally see us for the first time, not in pictures.  They were lovely people, and I had lots of questions.  My Grandpa told us about God, I had lots of questions.  My Aunty taught me to pray, and I prayed for my Dad to quit drinking. 
   My prayers were answered, a few years later.  My Dad got sober.  
   I believe he was a tortured soul, I don't think he thought he brought good to anyone.  He needed to go find his happiness, or so he thought, and he moved out. 
   Years later he confessed to me that he was wrong to leave, that there was no happiness out there to find, it was in here all the time. (He was pointing to his chest.)
   My Dad and I would have long talks on the drives to and from his house.  When I became a Christian they started out as fights, he had moved away from all the Christians in his life.  I think God has a sense of humor, don't you?
   Eventually my Dad came around, he said to me, "Well it's been a couple years now, I guess your not just going through a faze."
   He actually became very proud of me, that I had found the Lord.  He even said that, "This proves to me that there is a God, because my daughter has the same faith as my Mother, and they never even knew each other." 
   I had met my Grandmother 2 times in my whole life, I loved her instantly.  She was sweet and kind, and had an everlasting smile. 
  In his last days I lived with him.  Although I had no idea they would be my last days with him.  He told me he was less lonely with me around. 
  He got to met Josh.  We had just started dating.  This is what my Dad said about him.  "He's like you." 
  You see I had brought other guys to meet my Daddy, none of which he thought was like me.  So this to me was his approval.
   I know that he would not want anyone to think badly of him.  And honestly I do feel a little guilty for not making him look like the perfect Dad.  I can tell you he was a great Dad in many ways, and a not so great one in others.  I gained lots of words of wisdom from him. 
   Through all the years that I had my Dad, from as far back as I can remember.  I never, not even once, ever doubted his love for me.  I knew that he loved me no matter what I did, no matter who I would become.  I also knew that if I needed him, he would get there, he would come. 
   So happy father's day Daddy, I know you're not here, and I know you can't read this.  When you were good you were great.  And everything else is forgiven and gone.  I am so thankful that you knew that anyway, and I'm glad I got to tell you, in those days you were here.  I know you would love your son-in-law, and all your Grandbabies too.   I'll just have to love them that much more and pass on the best of you.  I love you.

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