It’s Father’s Day. FaceBook is filled with Happy Father’s Day messages and changed profile photos with “I miss you Dad” banners strung across them. And I think to myself, “How nice for them. Those folks seem to actually like and miss their Dads.” So it hits me and I ponder this feeling. My father died back in 1996 (I think — no I’m sure, it was the year after we moved, sometime in February, the 23rd — I believe, I can look it up if I need to — his death certificate is around here someplace) and truly the only feeling I’ve ever associated with my father’s absence has been relief. There’s no FaceBook banner for that.
And I know I’m not alone. But talking with my friends, most people seem to have resolved the growing up with a crappy father issues they had and moved into tolerable adult relationships with their fathers. Some turned out to be good at the grandfather thing and were thus forgiven, some got their act together and made ammends, some just managed to squeak through with the right words before dying of a terminal something leaving their kids longing for more time with the ‘new and enlightened’ version. Not my old man.
I grew up to be a decent human being and a good parent in spite of him. And I know when I look my demons in the face or when I cuddle up to them in the dark days of my soul, it is unfair to blame him for any of them. I am a fully formed individual now. Fifty-seven years I’ve seen on this planet, seven of them in the company of a very good therapist to help me unwind the events of my life. My father’s struggles with his own demons are not directly related to mine. I am responsible for my own healing and my own response to this day.
But today my inner child searches desparately for one good memory with him, a lovely technicolor something that my heart can wrap itself around so that I too could claim that banner, “I miss you Dad”. Wish me luck.