Happy Fathers Day
Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor
Even though we only lived under the same roof until I was six, my Dad was always a huge part of my life. What I remember most is him telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be, how meticulously he shined his shoes, how he was always well dressed and smelled good, how he loved color, loved to dance, play music and paint.
It took me years to say the words, but my dad was an alcoholic. He was never mean or abusive, he was a very functional alcoholic, to the point that unless you knew him well, you couldn’t always tell he was drinking. As a child it somehow felt disrespectful to call him an alcoholic, the movies always showed the darkest side of alcoholism and that didn’t represent my dad. He drank to battle his demons and stop the pain.
After two failed attempts at sobriety, not staying sober for my school play and telling me outright that he would never stop drinking, I finally believed him. I was only ten. It was then that I really understood acceptance and unconditional love. I loved my dad more than anything. Once I knew that he would never stop drinking, I had to make a choice. I could choose to keep my distance and spare myself from having to watch him drink and smoke his health away, or I could choose to keep him in my life and accept and love him as he was. I chose the latter and have no regrets.
Despite his drinking, we had a close relationship, even after I moved away. He was still my dad, still made me laugh, and still told me I could be anything I wanted to be. From him, I also learned to accept myself so that I would never have to drink to battle my demons or stop the pain. My dad died in March of 1995, and I still miss him although I know a part of him will always be with me.
My Uncle Joe was the man who raised me. He drove me to the hospital when my asthma was out of control, he held my hand on my first day of kindergarten, and in his own way – which I did not understand at the time, he tried to protect me from the world. He was also an alcoholic; however he stopped drinking after he had a heart attack. He stopped drinking on his own and never dealt with the issues that caused the drinking. Unfortunately, he became bitter over the years and it caused a strain in our relationship.
When I left home we weren’t on the best of terms and it would take another two or three years before we made amends. After that, I think we became closer than we had been in years, and I cherish that. He passed away in 1988, before I would ever have the chance to see him again. I cling to the memory of the hug he gave me as I left home. I feel it as if it were today. It was a brutal loss for me because he passed away the night before I was to see him. His life and death taught me forgiveness – of others, and of myself. His death is still the hardest of all for me, but I have come to terms with it and live a better life because of it.
My Uncle Frank, I’ve written about him in the past – he is a man who words cannot adequately describe and I loved him dearly. He also battled alcoholism and I’m happy to say that he found sobriety. He hit the proverbial bottom and had the desire to stop drinking. The route he chose was AA. He followed the steps and when he was ready; he began to sponsor others and remained active and involved with AA through the remainder of his life. He died at 89 with over forty years of sobriety. His mission was to help as many others as he could. Because I’d lost so many other loved ones, I was able to let my Uncle Frank know how much he meant to me before he died. He made a difference in many lives by giving back and giving of himself. He taught me the value of being a part of something bigger than myself. Along the way, he also taught me how to live life fully, that age is only a number, and to remember to acknowledge and appreciate the loved ones in your life while they are still with you.
If you happen to be a father, please keep yourself healthy physically and mentally for yourself and your children – regardless of their age or yours. If you have a strained relationship, forget the blame game – reach out, be willing to take a chance. Tell your children often that you love them. Be there for them. Live. Love. Laugh.
If you have a father who is still living, as a child, the same applies to you. Make every minute count! Happy Fathers Day!!!by