Sitting here on Father’s Day, I’ve been reflecting on my deceased Dad. Although he passed over a year ago, it feels as if it were yesterday that I watched the nightmare that unfolded the last night of his life, yet, simultaneously it feels like a decade has passed because of everything that happened in between that night and today.
Lately, I’ve been struggling with a ton of guilt related to my own parenting skills – and lack thereof – and also about the curses we pass to our children. Most of them are unintentional, because we inadvertently become our parents. Some is by genetics, but there are some actions that we (and our parents, and our parents’ parents) do that actually mold not only our children, but our grandchildren.
There were a ton of unresolved issues I had with my father, but my biggest regret was one particular discussion. I had always intended to confront him about the issue of when he left my mother. He didn’t just leave her for another woman, he abandoned my mom for a girl – a 16 year old girl to be exact. I was 14 at the time. Dad was 40. (Needless to say, the marriage didn’t last – if you are wondering)
Just prior to his decision to leave the marriage, my mom was in a car accident. The wreck not only involved crashing into someone’s home, but it left one of her legs in a cast and no means of transportation, and ultimately helpless.
After he left, I witnessed her lose all hope, as well as any will to move forward. Inevitably, she became so depressed that she was barely able to cope with daily life, and took to the bottle.
At age 15, seeing how my mother became unable to care for me, I had to go live with my father, and soon after, my new 17 year old stepmother joined our home. My father would drive my stepmom and myself to school every morning. I was a sophomore, she was going into her senior year. It was the stuff the Jerry Springer Show, (as well as most middle- aged women’s nightmares) are made of.
This was something I turned into a joke amongst my friends and classmates, and throughout my adult life. I suppose it was a coping mechanism.
That is, until the day it wasn’t a joke anymore. Nothing about what my father did was funny. I was in my mid 30’s, and during one particular disagreement with my husband about younger women and older men, it pierced me. I was suddenly paralyzed with fear, realizing that I had approached my mother’s age at the time my father left. I had never allowed it to bother me like this before then. It was now truly relevant on a personal level though. That changed the status of it being a joking matter no more.
My point is not to say “poor me,” but to tell of what my biggest regret is now on Father’s Day. That is, to tell my dad that while what he did had great consequences and he passed down some traits I’d rather he kept to himself, he could be forgiven, and he was still loved – most importantly not by me – but by God.
That is my biggest regret, for I fear that even in his final moments – as his last words to me was him telling me to leave – that he died a bitter, resentful, prideful man. For that Dad – I am truly, truly sorry. I should have shared the light and love of Jesus while I had the chance and perhaps the night of your death would have been much more peaceful. I love and honor you, still. I also pray and hope – oh how I hope – that someone did give you that and you received Him when you were of your right mind.
It took that, in combination with the other events of the last year, to make me see that it was my own pride getting in my way of that conversation. It is so painfully clear now.
God forgive me, because I will likely never forgive myself.