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Bittersweet

My father is/was a mixed bag.

Far from perfect, he beat both my brother and I, and he taught us to fight back physically when people hurt or teased us. His discipline was wildly inconsistent, sometimes hugs and understanding when a beating wouldn't have been unexpected, sometimes brutal reactions to minor offenses.

I know my father loves us, but his background didn't equip him with effective tools for handling conflict. He had no real experience with providing leadership, and  ****-poor examples in his own youth. I don't even know how many uncles and aunts I have who are his half-brothers and sisters due to my grandfather's constant stepping out. He spent his childhood evenings trying to track his dad down in bars and bootleggers before he could spend all the money. He was also beaten and abused.

Not that any of that is an excuse for how he treated us as children, but... I know he did the best he was able given his own demons, and I know he feels sorry for his own excesses because of the way he turned his own life around after my brother and I left home. He went to teachers' college and spent the last 20 years setting up technical programs in trade schools and mentoring at-risk youth. I'm proud of the old guy.

The problem now is that he's had a series of strokes that seem to have taken away his will to live. All he does is sit on the couch and watch sports. Nothing else seems to interest him. It's like after the strokes he's just given up, even though the doctors say he should be able to have a full recovery.

I think part of the problem is that he feels isolated in the family, because my mom's side has never really approved of him, and my brother and I both gave him hell about our childhood traumas. I think he thinks we hate him or something.

The thing is, it wasn't all bad. He was a good provider and his passions were contagious. Even if he didn't personally know better, he knew there was better stuff out there and he encouraged us to dream and achieve even though he was crap at providing emotional support or guidance of any other sort. He was a strange cross between a thug and a self-educated renaissance man.

I love my dad. I wish he could be happy in his retirement. I'm afraid that my own children won't get to know him because he's just sitting there waiting to die.

My girlfriend is pregnant, and so is my brother's  wife, so by January we'll have two new additions to the family.

I think I need to talk to my father and tell him I love him and forgive him for all the crap in our childhood. I also need to apologize for not clearing the air sooner and just leaving things as they were when I left 20 years ago, pissed off and bitter.

I hope it helps. I hope he'll get up off the couch and engage with the world again. I know he'll be a much better grandpa than he was a dad and I hope we don't miss the chance because of old grudges and guilt.

My mom needs him back, too. It's kind of ******* me off, actually. If the carrot doesn't work, I'm pretty good with a stick.

Plan is to do the love and forgiveness thing, but if there's no change I'm going to have to try shaming him into action, showing up at their place a lot and making him do stuff.

I don't know. Not sure what I expect from all of you, but I think it helped me to say this "out loud".

sumnerkagan sumnerkagan 41-45, M 11 Responses Jul 2, 2010

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Forgiving can be hard I know this. You are making the right choice though!! When your Father does pass away he will see & feel how he hurt you. He does love you & you can have a better relationship now. No parent is perfect. God bless you & your family.

I enjoyed your post and I hope your father and you reconcile. And congrads to you and your girlfriend on new baby. Best wishes. Teresa :-)

Thank you for posting and taking time to write out your life story, we all have demons your right.

Hey, i read what you have wrote, you should tell your father that you frogive him and get him up that's the most wonderful thing. My parents are the same way, but they seem to be better. but they aretwo faced people who like to blame children or us now adults for things we have done rather than recongnize what they have done, everytime i try to talk to my mom and ask what i have done she ignores me. Then later she will be all nice to me, me and my brother were kicked out of the house and barley got help emotionally from our parents. They gave me some money, when mom did wrong i tell dad and he would cover for her and blam e it on me, my mom would turn situations around blaming my brother and i. we have tow young brothers who get treated better than us. He is our step- dad but he took care of us since we were babies, so we call him dad. My mom and dad were good providers but they always argued and it was always aboutt hwta they felt and wanted if you had a problem they would blame it on you and completely turn things around that you didn't even say or do. I hate my parents but then i love them but they are nothing but two faced dogs.

I admire your outlook and courage regarding your past and relationship with your father. I hope you were able to have that talk and get him up off the couch to enjoy life again.

This is a great posting!!.....thanks for sharing it...I really admire your attitude about your father's behaviours...you have such a mature and matter-of-fact stance on your childhood....it's commendable......I hope things have turned around for your mother and father since you wrote it....

That really is the best attitude, forgiveness and acceptance. You didn't actually lose the fistfight though. You won your independence, which led to many great things in your life and ultimately toward reconciliation with him. And I bet when he looks back at it he feels that he lost by even getting into it with you. Great story, and thanks for the updates.

You should try to get him to invest in a hobby. maybe art or music, some good books. at that age, your world falls apart when you look into the mirror, he needs something to take him out of all the depressing pain, like your kids, to get that spark going once again in him

Sorry I took so long responding to you. I did put it into action, and it's kind of worked.



It's like my father got a second wind when the grandkids were born. Not completely though. He still just sits on the couch unless there's a chance to visit them or we drop by...



He has good days and bad days I guess, but it's driving my poor mother nuts. They could be having the time of their lives, spending their pensions and living the good life. Instead, she's always out alone while he sits at home watching t.v.



Giving him hell doesn't work, really, and with a new family and a business to run I'm finding it difficult to stop by as much as I'd like to.



He's slowly coming back to life though. Not fast enough for my mother but he's got a lot to process, coming face-to-face with his own mortality and owning up to his mistakes is a big task. There's guilt, sorrow, anger, loss, shame - a whole host of negative emotions to process.



I can understand him being depressed. It's a lot to process. Just hope he works it out... There's really only so much I can do.

Your piece was posted more than six months ago. Your plan sounds good. I hope you put it into action.

Your piece was posted more than six months ago. Your plan sounds good. I hope you put it into action.