life is funny..(not funny, “haha”)

What I am about to say will be taken, I’m sure, as cold hearted. And it may be. But here goes anyway: I never liked my Father very much. There are many reasons, of which I won’t go into excruciating detail here but suffice it to say that living with an alcoholic, sometimes abusive father doesn’t leave one with many Ward Cleaver moments.
Many young women marry the image of their father. I married the exact and far opposite of my father. My husband is a warm, loving, dependable, non alcoholic man. I can count on him to be here for my lifetime.
I would have been , up to last weekend, hard pressed to find a single thing in my life that was influenced by my father.
Now? The universe has changed for me as it is prone to do in life. My father has been diagnosed with pretty grim lung cancer. Although he is at the beginning of his journey, I fear it will be a short fight. He is a small man, made weaker by the weight loss of recent months and the cancer is pretty large.
While we wait for his appointment parade to come to fruition, I find myself looking at my father in a bit of a different slant of light. He was still a pretty miserable alcoholic, but all of a sudden I can see that my love of cooking has come from his curiosity in the kitchen. He planted that seed. I refused to see it for many a year. I would have sworn to you, last week, that I had sparked that interest on my own.
I think some of my sense of humor was his too. I am remembering a different side to the man that I disliked for so many years.
And I know that perhaps he did the best he could. Sure, it wasn’t the best, it wasn’t what *I* needed but it was what HE had to give. And more important? I am who I am on this day because of the past that I have experienced.
Maybe I’ll be able to find out a little bit more about him in the coming weeks and months.
Should be interesting.

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29 Comments

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29 responses to “life is funny..(not funny, “haha”)

  1. I hear exactly what you’re saying. My situation with my father is much the same – and a few years back he ended up in intensive care with a life threatening injury. He pulled through, though, but I think it’s made our relationship even harder, and sometimes I feel horrendously guilty that I don’t feel kindlier towards him.
    Very hard, and I’ll be thinking of you.

  2. Something similar happened with one of my coworkers, recently. She couldn’t stand her father for lots of valid, awful, childhood reasons, but he got truly sick and she felt obliged to take care of him, and his hospital bed moved into her dining room. For months she took care of him while he complained and was generally ungrateful and she’d say that he was so mean that even Death didn’t want him.

    Well, he died a couple weeks ago and … she’s been mourning ever since. Not as deeply as if she’d really loved or even liked the bitter old man he’d become, but because when it came down to the end, he was still her father.

    I think to most people–especially a warm, loving one such as yourself–it’s hard to let go of someone who shaped us so strongly, who had such an effect (even a negative one) on our lives. Because even they can have the rare, positive influence in amongst the trauma.

  3. Hugggggggggs. Or air kisses, or something.

  4. Oh, my dear Sandy. Life is so weird. And our relationships with family members are even more weird! I think it’s a good thing that we are able to shift and change and… become softer. Not that anything ever erases the crap — maybe it’s that the crap can eventually become part of the story rather than the main subject. I don’t know. I’m babbling. Love to you. And hugs.

  5. I had struggles like that with my mother. It took me a long time to accept her as the woman she was and not the mother I wanted her to be. Years of practice had taught me not to call her after 5 (she had her “it’s okay to drink in the evening” rule) or even to rely on her to remember important dates or events (perhaps a blessing in disguise). Years of therapy took care of all the trauma I went through as a kid. I acted all cool about it, but I was always afraid that people thought I was cold and heartless. Now I realize it was self-preservation.
    When she got sick, I saw her as this frail old woman and I was able to feel compassion and even forgiveness. For her and myself.
    Your distance can be a gift. Appreciate the perspective you have and know that you’re not alone out there. Hugs to you, sweetie.

  6. Sending you strength for your personal journey. Have been through something similar. Read this recently, and it helped me – hope it helps you, too. HUGS.

    http://www.dailyom.com/articles/2010/22297.html

  7. For various reasons I’ve been teaching the basics of Transactional Analysis to a few teenagers lately, but much of it rings true in my own relationship with my parents. Learning to see a parent as another adult rather than from a child’s perspective is rather mind blowing. Best of luck on your journey, Sandy.

  8. Jenn C.

    Sometimes I wonder if it’s harder, in some ways, to go through something like this with a parent from whom you are distant, as rather than mourning the loss of someone you had the best possible relationship with, you have to come to terms with how and why you didn’t and to accept that there will never be that moment of kinship that repairs all.

    May you find the strength to take this journey in stride and find peace at the end of it.

  9. My dad was a difficult man to love mostly because he was so uncomfortable with the emotion himself. It made him appear to us to be cold and uncaring. He did love us and showed his love in unconventional ways, but they were ways you had to look for and they weren’t easy to find when he performed them. In the years since his death (he died suddenly) my thoughts about him have softened and when I was reminded recently by someone close to me how harsh and uncaring he could be I was sad that he had left that legacy but sadder that I had been reminded of it after my redrawing of him in my mind. Find the little bit you can find that is good and cling to that. Not so much for him, but for you. It helps as the years go by. My prayers go out to your family, hugs!

  10. Life’s a trip and it’s amazing what we learn on it. I hope the coming time isn’t too difficult for him or you.

  11. Beautifully put. I’m so sorry that cancer has entered your life again and do hope that his journey has as little pain as possible (we don’t wish pain on anyone, right?). Thank you for helping me examine my own tenuous family connections and reminding us that growing up is not just for little children. Big hugs to you.

  12. There is so much I want to say to you, Sandy, but comments on this sort of thing are hard. I get it, though, and have struggled with this stuff regarding my own parents. I have learned, since my mom died, that forgiving her for her failings is the best thing I can do for me. She did the best she could and that’s what I try to remember.
    I wish you peace in the time ahead.

  13. Being able to see some of these things now, while he is still here is a blessing. I’m so sorry he is facing a terrible fate. Wishing you strength in the coming months.

  14. xo, will be thinking of you.
    Time wears down mountains.

  15. My grandfather once told me that the day I saw my parents for who they truly were, people, was the day I fully became an adult. I think you have finally let go of something that was holding you back: fear, resentment, anger… and are at peace with who you are, how you have grown and the people who raised you. Yes, he was an alcoholic, but you nailed it when you said “he did the best he could do.” Your father is human. I’m so sorry you are going through all of this– seeing my parents struggle with health issues finally made me realize that they are who they are. And it’s okay to love someone and not like them very much.

    Hugs to you & your family.

  16. Your new perspective will help you through the next few months (or years). Being at peace with your relationship is the best thing you can do for yourself and for him.
    Prayers for you and your family.

  17. Elaine

    That struck such a chord. It isn’t easy, sometimes, to shift your focus and perspective, but if you can, the resulting understanding can be very helpful. You’re in my prayers. Be kind to yourself.

  18. Here’s a hug for you and some understanding as well. My Mom lost a short battle of the same last October. Obviously your family taught you the most important – love, understanding and forgiveness.

  19. Oh, my Sandy, I am so sorry. I feel you on the father thing. Do what you feel is best. That’s all any of us can ever do.

    xo

  20. I am thinking of you Sandy.

  21. Susanne

    I am sorry about this development in your life however, it might turn out to be a very big turning point for both of you. I nursed my Mom to her passing at her home. Although we had at best what could be described as a tumultuous relationship, it became easier near the end of her life. No big secrets revealed, no sick bed apologies, just easier.

    I hope you allow yourself some give in these next few months. And don’t forget put your feet up and rest those babies as they need to carry you along.
    From your cyber pedicurist….in Canada

  22. Life is sooooo complicated. Thinking of you.

  23. When my abusive ex-husband died suddenly (heart attack), I had to watch my daughters work through their conflicted emotions. The older hadn’t spoken to him in years, the younger was still involved in an angry relationship with him. I think it was harder for them to resolve, since they couldn’t confront him or make peace with him.
    Take the time you’re given, for your own sake. You don’t have to forgive and forget – just find a level of acceptance that lets you let go.
    Hugs.

  24. I could have written your post. I’m glad you expressed your feelings. You will be in my thoughts and prayers in the weeks/months to come, and I’d hug you if I could.

  25. *Hugs* I’ve been through a similar thing. It’s interesting how life works out. Take care!

  26. jill

    I am also someone who struggles with feeling for my father. But I love him, as you do yours. I’m still working on forgiving him. I’m also trying to forgive myself for all the negative feelings. This is a tough road. You have my prayers on your journey.

  27. That, my dear, is a complicated situation you’ve got on your hands. I am sending you all my best wishes.

  28. Very sobering news. I’m sorry. Your new perspective on your father is a healthy one. Be kind to yourself as you all navigate this sad situation.

  29. Big hugs for you, Sandy.