site stats
Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's never too late.

I was one of those girls that had a mostly-absent father. We had very little in the way of a relationship as I was growing up, due to a variety of things, including his alcoholism and prescription drug abuse.

My parents divorced when I was in high school, and I hardly saw my father after that. When I was in college, I saw him once and he had to ask me where I was going to school. That just gives you a sense of how our relationship was...or wasn't.

We had nothing in common, had little to talk about...but when he became sick with dementia and was moved to a facility closer to me, I realized it was the last chance I had to know him. I began to take my kids to see him regularly, and although he didn't always remember them, he did remember me. And we developed a closer relationship than we ever had before, odd as that may sound.

Shortly after he moved into the facility for dementia patients, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer and died within weeks. I was there with him, with my siblings (none of whom were close to him), when he finally went, after having sat vigil for almost a week.

And you know...I think about him more now than I did during the thirty-some years he was alive as my father. There's a sort of presence I feel when I think of him, and I truly believe that he is somewhere, looking out for me and watching over my family. I feel closer to him, to his spirit, than I ever did when he was alive.

Sad, in a way, but in a way, it's very comforting for me. It's hard to explain, but rather than feeling as if we left things unfinished and unresolved, I feel as if they have been resolved.

So for those who have little or no relationship with their father, I wish for you the same sort of peacefulness that I have now. The knowledge that he, when on this earth, was the best father he could have been--for all his shortcomings (at least in my eyes)--but has also been a different sort of strength for me now that he's gone.


At 2:13 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Wow, Colleen. Your post gave me chills. My father left my mom and five daughters when I was eleven. Ran off with his secretary. My mom had never held a job, so suddenly we were moving into the "haunted house" down the street and we were eating canned beans for dinner. My mom hired a detective to try to find him, but it took years. By the age of 14 I was waitressing and paying my own dentist bills. My father had divorced us as well. I didn't like men for the longest time...but two of my sisters always had a yearning to stay close and they went out of their way to keep him in their lives. It took me 30 plus years to find it in my heart to forgive him. My youngest sister still struggles with that, but I do know he did his best, and sure, sometimes I watch my husband with my kids and wish I could have had that. But that's life.

I just saw Dad the other day. His wife has dementia and he refuses to have anyone else take care of her even though he really needs the help. A few years ago, he told me he felt bad about leaving all of us--which came as a real shocker since he's not the kind of man who says he made a mistake.

I must say that once I forgave him, it freed me in sooo many ways. Forgiving someone does not mean you like what they did, it just means you're letting all those bad feelings go...peacefulness, like you said.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful post, Colleen. I'm happy for you that you were able to spend that little bit of time with him and that you feel at peace with all you must have gone through.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Colleen and Theresa, you might not have had good fathers, but they both had very good daughters. Thank you both for sharing this part of your lives. I'm honored to know you!

At 2:52 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Ahhh, Diane. You're too sweet. I feel honored to know you!

At 3:00 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Colleen and Theresa,
Ditto what Diane said, and I'd like to add that from what I know of you, you're both great moms as well as daughters!

At 8:08 PM, Blogger MJFredrick said...

Wow, Colleen and Theresa! I had no idea.

My dad left on Christmas Eve when I was 9, and we would see him every other weekend when he was with his second wife. After they divorced, we saw him maybe once a month until I was 16. Then...I think he met my dh 2 times before the wedding, and wondered why I didn't want him to give me away.

He moved to another state a couple of years later and married a 4th time (I wouldn't know my second stepmother if she sat on my lap, BTW). This wife has stuck with him 18 years and has urged him to renew his relationship with us.

I've forgiven him and we have a better relationship, especially this past year, but my younger brother hasn't. I don't know why he can't, or if it will be better if he does. I just don't want the regrets.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Christine said...

Thank you for sharing this story with us. I was lucky because my dad and I tried to have a good relationship even though my mom made every effort to destroy it. He was emotionally unable to cope with her manipulations, and I defended his lack of support for me for years. I was on my own at 16 because of it-- but over time we reconnected and when he was very sick, I was able to go to him with my daughter and husband. He apologized to me for failing me and my brother, but I had already forgiven him years earlier. I'm glad I was able to spend quality time with him as an adult with my own family and he could see me for who I really am rather than for the picture my mom painted (which wasn't pretty).

I miss him a lot. He's been gone for 7 years and those high days (father's day, birthdays, christmases) are bittersweet days for me.

When I read the other life histories here, I am convinced they imparted a need in our souls to write--a way to reconnect the broken lines between our parents and ourselves.

Colleen: I love your books-- they are deeply emotional and always stir my soul. Now I know why.

At 8:50 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Hugs to you, too, MJ and Christine.

The beauty of these confidences is they show how powerful love can be when we let it. You all loved enough to forgive.

At 9:13 PM, Blogger Louisa Cornell said...

I firmly believe that true forgiveness is a love that reaches across death. You fabulous ladies have shown that to be true. To truly forgive is an act of love and what you have done shows that no trial or betrayal has more power than the love that resides in each of you. No wonder you write romance. Romance is about more than love between a man and a woman, it is more than the physical. Romance at its core is a soul and heart that speaks to another soul and heart. While a person may be many things in their lives and relationships, what is in their heart and soul is what they truly are once you dig down through all the mistakes and masks we wear.

And the first to be healed by forgiveness is the one that forgives.

At 11:08 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

MJ...Christmas Eve...that's horrible! And that's crazy you never even got to meet the second step mom. Glad the third stepmom is urging him to reunite. I'm with regrets. Hopefully our siblings won't have regrets later...

And hugs to you, Christine. Glad you had time with your father before he passed away. Very sad.

Louisa, well said! I think I'll print your post out. Great quote at the end there...


Post a Comment

<< Home

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]