My dad just died this past Valentine's Day. It was four days before my 18th birthday as well.
He had called me on the 13th, a rare thing for us, because I hate talking on the phone. He asked if I wanted my temps as a birthday gift. At first I said no, because I wanted to do it for myself (I hate when people buy me things) and I am never in a celebratory mood on my birthday. I was just about set in my decision, but then I heard this... desperation, in his voice. At that moment I felt something, maybe a bit of a subconscious thing. I agreed, and we said goodbye. That was the last time that we spoke.
My dad and I had never had a good relationship. Ok, that's a bit of an understatement-- for the most part, it was horrible. He was an extreme alcoholic, and very abusive in a number of ways, to my mom, my sisters, and of course, to me. I was always a disappointment in his eyes, never good enough, never strong enough. He would choke me at times, or push me around a bit, to make me 'less of a wimp'. I was just a little girl, and here he was, a huge, muscular man, benching 250 lbs. on average (he liked to brag). If I came home with any grade below an A, he would pull out this thick, black belt, and just... start swinging. He was always in and out of prison, too, so if I didn't see him passed out on the living room floor Sunday morning, I prepared myself to say hello through a glass window the following week.
I had always envied my friends, who had dependable, responsible fathers. I even envied those who had NO father. My dad embarrassed me time after time, and hurt me in so many ways, physically, emotionally, mentally... I hated him for it. I began to call him my 'biological father' and felt he was nothing more than another homeless leech. There are still parts of me... dark parts I don't like to think about... that have yet to forgive him.
My dad got sick later in life. After all of the heavy drinking, his body suffered, and he developed diabetes and cirrhosis of the liver. His immune system was basically shot to hell after that, but he continued with drugs, his favorite being heroine. After a while, my mom decided it would be best for him to move in with us, so that she could keep an eye on him and get him some help. I think in a lot of ways she knew his time was coming to a close.
He began going in and out of comas. Once, a very sudden coma occurred, and I was home alone. I heard him downstairs, stumbling around, crying out for help.
I didn't want to move. I thought about all he had done to me, to my family... I thought about letting him die. Then I stood up, walked downstairs, and called the squad. He may have been a horrible person, but he was still my father.
Things changed after that. I began to see him in a new light. He apologized for past transgressions, and there was this look he would give me at times, like he knew what was going to happen. He would smile at me and say, 'I love ya, kid.' I'd never heard him talk like that before.
After my dad died, I got a birthday card in the mail. It was from him. He had never given me anything for my birthday before. There was an inscription on the inside that read: 'How, in just 18 years, did you get to be "so beautiful"?'
I still have the card. Sometimes I pull it out when I cant sleep. I didnt know why he put the words "so beautiful" into quotes at first. Then, the morning after the funeral, I was listening to the radio, high as ever, crying my eyes out, because not even drugs could take away the pain this time. A song came on, "You Are So Beautiful To Me." I think it's safe to say that it was from him.
I guess I just wanted to post this to say that I am sorry. I am sorry that I still cant fully forgive you, and that I made you pay for the past, long after you had changed your ways. I wish I would have tried to form some sort of relationship with you before your death. Maybe, someday, I'll get a second chance.