I rarely write about my dad - and that is for a lot of reasons. He died at 54 years of age in 1970. The picture was taken on my wedding day in 1969. On this Father's Day I want to honor him as well as share a bit of our troubled history together.
My memories are all colored by a father who was two people to his family.
The sober dad was the man my mom fell in love with. He was kind and loving. Pictures show a good looking man and one old movie of him reflected an appealing charm. Not well educated having left school after the 9th grade, he had other gifts that made up for his educational short fall. He was a hard worker. I remember him occasionally telling me that my mom was beautiful. My mom was a beautiful woman. I think he loved her until the day he died.
But that love could not overcome his alcoholism. Alcoholic dad was a nasty drunk. Alcochol released a hidden anger and frustration. Those emotions were vented at his family. I never knew what caused those unhappy emotions but I suspect they came from his own troubled childhood. As a child and young woman I never understood why my mom stayed married to my dad. But at his death I got a glimpse of one of those reasons - she worried that he didn't know how much she loved him. Love can be a powerful motivator.
Now that I am 70 - time and distance from my troubled upbringing have softened the hurtful edges of my relationship with my father. I understand better how he struggled with an illness - one that consumed him and eventually contributed to his death. The memories of his hurtful behavior towards his wife and children have faded somewhat and the love has emerged - and understanding.
The header to my blog has a picture on the right of me at around age 5 with my dad at the shore. I don't remember this time - we looked happy. But I do remember my wedding day, when he struggled to stay sober until my 1:00 pm wedding. That struggle he made for me warms my heart even 48 years later. I know now it was a kind of gift - the only gift he could give me.
He died a year later and never lived to see the birth of his grandchildren. Sober dad would have been a wonderful grandfather. And he would have smiled ear to ear at having a grandson. This August my sister's daughter is having a baby. A boy. I hope he is smiling now from heaven at the birth a a great-grand son.
Happy Father's Day Dad.