Fathers and Forgiveness

Decades later I still know the last words I ever said to my dad.  Sadly, they were not nice ones.

“I wasted all these years on you, and you still just lie.  Just leave me alone.”

And then I hung up on him.

He killed himself six days later.

It was one of the few sporadic phone calls we had over the years.  I had no reason to believe there wouldn’t be another one a few months down the road.  I would tell him about school, he would promise to visit.  This would never happen.

I am a mostly logical adult.  I do not believe that my dad shot himself over the angry rant of a teenager.   I know all the other factors: unemployment, a marriage ending and an alcohol problem.

All these years later… It still stings a little. I still wish I had not said what I said.  Part of me still thinks maybe something would have changed.  You can’t take back words – so I have tried not to say hurtful ones in the years since.

I am so bi-polar this time of year.  I get moody because it the anniversary of hurtful things.  It is also my birthday so I am very happy.

I was all caught up in it yesterday.  The hurt, the anger (still), the sadness, feelings of inadequacy.

I did things that make me happy:  I cuddled with my pup, I got some sun, I went to visit my momma and my sister, I cried a little and got some exercise.

Last night I was thinking of all the things I know about my dad:  I have his skin color.  He was the father of three daughters.  He was the oldest of ten children.  He was in the Army.  He was a brick mason.  He was very smart.   He always wore his black hair a little longer. He had a pet alligator when I was 8.  It was a baby and lived in a cooler.  He named me after my aunt Michelle. I can remember being a toddler standing in the front seat of his car and laughing and laughing.

I have spent so much of my life mad at him.  Mad that he wasn’t a dad to me, mad that he didn’t do what he said,  mad that he was mean to my mom, mad that he couldn’t get it together, mad he killed himself, mad that he didn’t love us enough.

So today I decided, I would give myself the best birthday present.  I am going to forgive him.  I am going to let go of the anger and when I think of him I am going to think of the good things I know about him.

 Gary (I cant ever remember calling you Dad),

I wish we had both done better.  I forgive you.  I am not mad anymore.  I hope you are genuinely resting in peace.

Love, Lisa

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~ by Lis on August 19, 2015.

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