YEAH it’s official…the one year death anniversary of my dad! It was another regular day. There wasn’t a memorial of any kind or a speech remembering what happened. I think our family isn’t ready. We’re still in mourning. My voice still quivers when I speak about that topic. I rather ignore it ever happened, than acknowledge their absence in our lives. He lived his life to the edge.
I always said that my dad was an amazing grandfather, a great dad, but a horrible husband. Now, how does that happen? I don’t know to tell you the truth. He made friends wherever he went and made many laugh. He had a wonderful sense of humor, but he also had his demons. A rough childhood is to blame. I remember, during a family therapy session, that he told us that his father would beat him as a kid. He didn’t have the love and affection as a child. He began to drink at a very young age. He was a very abusive and jealous husband. I remember the physical harm he would cause my mom, the phone calls to the police, and the fear that he instilled in us. I remember him sitting us down to show us bags of marijuana and him telling us that he was selling it for our sake. I remember waiting in the car as he made the drug deals, and waiting for him to finish getting drunk with his friends. It was normal listening to his stories about where or how he looted/burglarized places. Our life seemed normal to us until we began to grow older. It became a sort of shameful family secret.
A child isn’t supposed to experience any of this and as adults we aren’t suppose to hate our parents, but where does it end. I remember taking the step to forgive him, many years ago, and it was the most awkward moments in my life. Affection and my dad didn’t go together. I knew that all he wanted was to be loved but lacked the skills to know how, so I had decided to do what we hadn’t tried before. I decided to hug him and I think it took him by surprise. Several times, I would even end up kissing his ear because he would turn away not knowing what to do. Eventually, my sisters began to the same and it became a family thing. It made us uncomfortable but happy. I think that secretly he wished that my mom would do the same. Too many years of resentment, betrayal, and bruises didn’t allow her to forgive him. There were too many broken promises for her made it difficult to allow herself to love him like he needed her love him. Complicated…I know! Life wasn’t easy for us, but it’s what you do with it that counts.
My younger self didn’t have the coping skills, so I resorted to keeping my emotions bottled up until my suicidal attempts gave me away. Therapy and spiritual guidance allowed me to see that it had nothing to do with me, that it was his inner troubles, and that forgiveness was more for me than for him. My older self realized that I couldn’t allow myself to judge him, because he was a wonderful man when the drugs and alcohol weren’t present. I couldn’t hate him, because it prevented me from seeing his pain. I made a tougher choice. I loved him regardless of all the pain and struggles that he made us go through. My love for him allowed my children to love him unconditionally. They never saw him on drugs or drunk….or at least they didn’t realize it. They only saw their grandpa…the man that would get on the floor and play dolls, give them horsey-back rides, and spoil them (even if it was his last penny). Life is too short to have hate and resentment dwelling in it. It’s better to have love and joy, so there won’t be any room for guilt and regret when it’s too late to say good-bye.
* Learn to forgive.
* Make a choice to have love…and not hate…in your heart.
* Don’t judge others because of their actions…look deeper….you might be surprised.