Below is a personal share about how I learned to love and appreciate my father.
I have only met my father three times in my life. The first time I was 6 years old. I would cry for “my dad” before I fell asleep every night. So one day my mom finally said “ok you can meet him”. It was at my grandmother’s house. I walked in and I could smell him before even seeing him. The smell of old booze hit me like a brick wall. “Come here son give me a hug” he said in a gruff voice. Well that was it for me. I decided right then and there I didn’t need a dad. My Appreciation level….zero.
The next time I met him was on my 16th birthday. I was home in forest lawn with my mom, younger brother, and my best friend. “Knock knock”, guess who’s at the door. Drunk, smelly and embarrassingly shows up unannounced and “ruins” my birthday. He gave me $80 and my brother $40. Then he hugs my best friend and calls him “son”. He now thinks that’s his son! More embarrassment for me. I didn’t appreciate that.
The last time I met him I was 18 years old walking downtown on a Friday night going to meet some friends at a bar. Up ahead I spotted him. He had polio as a child so his withered leg and lopsided gait was easy to spot. He was standing by the edge of the sidewalk with his “old lady”. I looked for a way around him but I wasn’t about to run across two sets of busy train tracks to avoid him. I decided I’ll just walk right by and not say anything.
As I passed he says, “Hey Boy Gotta Smoke!”. My first thought was, “huh, I didn’t know my dad smoked!”, I also thought it was curious that he called me Boy. I stood there stunned and kinda disappointed and just stared into his eyes for a few seconds and shook my head. Then I continued walking. I looked back after I was almost a block away and he looked like I shook him as much as he shook me. Either way, I didn’t appreciate that either.
He passed away a few years later.
Much later at the age of 33 my own son was one year old. As he napped in the back seat of the car I’m reading a book by Dr Demartini “The Breakthrough Experience.” I’ve learned our past traumas become our future triggers so it’s time to take care of some mental baggage.
As I go through the questions in the book, I list my judgements of him, “inconsiderate, selfish, lazy”. Now I’m supposed to answer the question, “who has seen him do the opposite trait?”.
I’m racking my brain, “maybe my mom when I was a baby, maybe one of his relatives…” I’m really trying but coming up with nothing, but I keep on going, asking the question over and over…
Who has seen him doing the opposite????
Then all of a sudden it hits me!
He remembered my birthday!
He took the bus all the way from downtown and then walked three blocks, with a bum leg!
He gave me and my brother what little money he had to help us celebrate.
And, he was probably scared shitless so of course he drank before coming.
I still to this day have no idea how he found my address.
When I realized how he was the exact opposite of my life long judgements of him, I felt pure love and appreciation for him, and loved by him. Tears came to my eyes.
I knew in that moment some serious baggage had been cleared and I hopefully will have less baggage to pass onto my son.
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