My Father’s Daughter

 

Father’s Day card shopping was always stressful. I’d go through dozens of cards. Nothing fit. All I wanted was one that said Happy Father’s Day, period. But those were scarce. Mostly they dripped with sugary sweet sentiments like “Dad, you are the beacon of our family,” “You always had time for me and showed me how things were done,” or “You taught me right from wrong.”

 

And the clincher: “I hope when I grow up, I’ll be just like you.” That was the last thing I wanted. But, ironically, that’s exactly what happened.

 

My alcoholism looked different than his, so I managed to maintain a deep denial for decades, and a haughty judgmental arrogance toward him. But one fine day, more than a decade after he was gone, the still, small voice of truth came through loud and clear in my head: “I am an alcoholic.” Just like him.

 

This is the 20th Father’s Day that he’s been gone. Though I was at his hospital bedside, along with my mother and my sister, when he breathed his last breath, I’m sure I wasn’t fully present. I was inevitably altered by wine or pot––probably both.

 

I still don’t think they make cards that express what I would like to say today. I would like to say I love you, Dad. I understand things so much more clearly now. I feel your pain and I know your disappointment, your white-knuckled defeat. No judgment here.

 

I also know your greatness, your kindness, your sincerity, and your efforts.

 

In the occasional dreams I have of him, it occurs to me I could tell him that I go to AA meetings, and have been able to stay sober for eight plus years now––something he was never able to do. In my dreams, I wonder whether my dad would go to a meeting with me. I wonder if we could talk about this together and have an authentic conversation like two adults, one alcoholic talking to another.

 

And in my dreams and in my waking hours, I have lost that haughty judgmental vibe altogether. I have compassion. I have a different realization of what is was like for him. I feel more attuned to the inner insanity that goes with the territory he blindly tried to navigate.

 

So nowadays on Father’s Day, I am no longer on a quest for a Hallmark card that doesn’t exist. I can continually craft my own unique message to my dad and trust that he receives it, however that works.

 

Happy Father’s Day, period, Bob Kingsley. We share so much more than I realized, and I treasure the lessons learned.

 

 

 

In gratitude, harmony, and support,

 

 

My Father’s Daughter

4 thoughts on “My Father’s Daughter

  • June 22, 2018 at 6:33 am
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    This is a powerful article, indeed… such a wonderful story of healing. Thank you!

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  • June 22, 2018 at 10:40 am
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    A great example of the changes that come in sobriety😊

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  • June 22, 2018 at 6:50 pm
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    Wow you gave me a lot to think about. I really don’t remember any cards i gave him. In my family we just gave the gift without the card and not wraped. One time I gave him a pair of shoes I lifted from the place I used work at. My father often came home from work late, drunk and sometimes mean. I don’t think he drank like me. He had 6 kids and a wife to take care. There where party’s at our house a lot with a lot of alcohol and a lot of fights. It was hard for me to get close to him. I also came home a lot from work drunk, late and mean. I had a bad temper also. And I would drink at home. Those are the things I had in common with him and 3 sisters and 2 bothers reminded me of it so very often. He mellowed after he had 2 heart attacks. So if I gave him a father’s day card today it would say..Dad we where a lot a like. Thank you for being a good Grandfather. I asked my father to come over and supervise my then husband, brothers and a friend put a pool in my backyard. This was when he was mellowed out. He came over that day. He died in my backyard that day of a massive heart attack. I wasn’t there and yes I was drinking.

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    • June 30, 2018 at 10:06 am
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      Wow back to you – what an amazing story –
      What strikes me is (1) no wonder we feel a common bond – there’s something similar in our stories with the Alcoholic Father in our formative years… and (2) – how powerful the impact is of growing up like that is. For kids, and especially little girls, it’s such an onslaught of emotions and messages… and for me it played havoc with my romantic relationships later on… what kind of partner I was seeking, and for what reasons – what needed to heal. (I hope I have healed it – I’ve been married 3 times, and now feel I’m in the healthiest relationship I’ve ever had, but I still try to keep my eyes wide open for more clues to make sure I’m not “painting any red flags green” as I heard someone recently say.) I have to think that we’re the lucky ones today who have the capacity and the desire to explore these things from a “now” perspective, and be open to reassessing our opinions and judgements from a wiser place. I just had a thought – I wonder what our fathers would want to say to us in a card?? THAT would be an interesting exercise to meditate on… I wonder if I’d have the courage to do that…. Thank you for your comments – always!! xoxo

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