Yesterday was your birthday. You would have been 91, though you left us just shy of 87.
I spent most of the day not even thinking about you or what day it was. I was feeling rough but attributed it to physical factors, not emotional ones. Hubby didn’t realize what day it was until I put a rather cryptic note on Facebook about your birthday. He then thought that was the source of my poor health. I still wasn’t convinced you were affecting me in any way.
The truth is, Dad, I don’t know how I feel about you anymore. I know I have forgiven you for how hard you were on me and that is forever. I also know that in your last years you must have been fighting dementia, and it is my fault you weren’t diagnosed. I was afraid of you (I always was) and the others weren’t around you as much, so they just thought you were your usual grumpy self. I am not beating myself up about not bringing this up with you or your doctor. I just think sometimes that if I had and you were treated, those last years would have been better for all of us.
Do I miss you? That is a question I honestly can’t answer, and I guess that is the root of everything. Should I miss you? Is it wrong not too? Do I feel guilty? Again, no I don’t. Or at least I don’t think that I do. There are times that I do miss you, like when the local jockey won the Kentucky Derby last week and when your first great-grandchild was born. But these are sharing moments, not the deep emotional loss.
Am I glad you aren’t here? Again, this is something I am not sure I have the answer to. On one hand, I have been able to be my true self in the last four years. It took awhile, but when I finally realized that I was always trying to be what I thought you and Mom wanted me to be, I started becoming who I was meant to be. I am not putting the blame on either of you; however, I am also acknowledging the fact that you both rarely found the positives in me.
Yes, I know I suffer from mental illness (and now great physical pain as well). I just wish that my family could have seen past that and not been embarrassed by it/me. Because you were, I plunged deeper into the downward spiral.
When I found my faith, you used that against me as well. To you, the church was taking advantage of me (“charity begins at home”) and not helping me. I was never so glad as the day I was walking into your room and heard you and the hospital Pastor praying just two weeks to the day before your passing. However, by this time you were so weary from pain, illness and dementia that everything was my fault and as usual I willingly took the blame and resented it. My faith is what has gotten me through all of this and it has never been more strong than it is right now.
Would you be proud of who I have become since you left us? I don’t know. Does it matter to me anymore? I don’t think so, but again, I don’t know how I feel about any of it.
The facts are you are my Dad, and there were faults on both sides. Whether I miss you or love(d) you maybe don’t matter at this point. We are both at peace – you in heaven and me here in my new, stronger, better self.
Happy Birthday Dad,