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Making Peace

I think, now that I'm forty, I've finally made peace with myself about my relationship with my dad. Or lack of a relationship, really.

Today would have been his seventy-fourth birthday if he hadn't died in 1993, just after turning 57. I was 23 back then, and I hadn't reached the point where I could talk to him about what a lousy father he was to me. I hadn't reached the point where I could talk to him about anything important at all, even, since we weren't at all close. I was too young to remember really living with him before my parents divorced. Plus, I'm not sure how much he was even around before the divorce; to my mind, it didn't seem like he spent much time with us at all.

Then he didn't tell us (meaning my sisters and me) about his serious health issues, and any chance to say anything before it was too late evaporated.

Knowing that we all have a limited time in this life, and we generally don't know when that time is going to end, is something I don't think most of us can really internalize. If I could have accepted that limit, I might have said something to him while I still had the chance. Maybe. Or maybe I'm fooling myself.

Instead, I'm left with the letters he exchanged with my mom before they were married (I finally understand why they married) and my sisters' memories of a father (at eight and ten years older, they actually remember the days prior to when my parents' relationship started to disintegrate).

That and the goal of being a different kind of a parent to my daughter than my dad was to me. And I can't over-estimate how much the fear of being like him played into my plan to stay childless. (Maya was the surprise of a lifetime, and Herb and I can't imagine not having her in our life now.)

I think that's one goal I'm going to make, and maybe that's a legacy I owe to my father.


sapphireblue said…
Having not been raised by my mom, I think it is a struggle to understand why they "chose" not be to in their children's lives. I can't imagine everyday life without my children. All we can do is be great parents and not dwell on what could have been.
StephanieD said…
Your relationship with your dad sounds like making peace was a really tough experience. No matter that it came years later; the fact that you can say that now and focus on the present and your own family is priceless.

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