My father’s parents raised their kids in a small, musty house in an equally small and musty town in southern New Jersey. I never knew my grandmother very well; we lived in Germany and I can count on one hand the number of times we visited. As a matter of fact, when she came through the receiving line at our wedding 32 years ago, I had no idea who the woman was.
My dad and his siblings were dirt poor with an abusive father who eventually ended everyone’s misery when he put a bullet into his own head. Dad was a trouble maker who frequently volunteered at church just to get away from his increasingly authoritarian mother. His ‘bedroom’ was in the attic where he shared the space with the meat his mom hung on hooks for scrapple. He joined the Army to see the world and close the door on his miserable youth.
My dad was not a great father.
This fact was driven home every year at this time as I’d sift through all the father’s day cards trying to find one that “fit.” This annual exercise left me bitter and jealous and taught me to make my own cards. I also eventually realized that Hallmark is about as representative of human relationships as Vogue is representative of the human body.
It took me a while to get to this place, but I know now that my dad did the best with what he had. Who knows what I would have been like if I had grown up in his shoes.. My father was a survivor and a good provider and maybe that’s the sum total of what he was emotionally capable of.
As an adult, I learned to look past the flaws, both mine and his, and allowed the moments we shared to stand alone without the added weight of history or expectation. I will forever be grateful for the years we did have to build a bridge between us.
My dad wasn’t perfect, but he was mine and I’m a better person because of him.
Hmm, that sounds good enough for a card.. 😉
Happy Father’s Day up there dad.