I don't have the best relationship with my dad. I don't necessarily mean that we don't get along, but that we are not close. After several very tumultuous years of marriage, he and my mom divorced when I was 7 years old. There is not much I remember of my dad being at home. I have a few foggy memories of him coming home really late and carrying me from their bed to my own. I remember his love for crossword puzzles and how he was really good at drawing. Among my dad's redeeming qualities is his sense of humor. Above anything else, he still loves to make people laugh. He can, at times, be very tender-hearted. Sad movies make him cry. My sister and I remember the only time we were ever punished by our dad. We had been fighting and, in the heat of the moment, we said we hated each other. He spanked us and put us on our knees in the spare bedroom. After just a few minutes he came back with tears in his eyes and said how hard it was to have to do that. The lesson was learned for us. We never said we hated each other ever again.
My mom tells me that I was Daddy's Girl when I was little. She says that when he was home, I was always in his lap. I don't really remember that, but my recent interest in old family photographs turned up a picture that I had never seen before. I found it in an old box of photos from my Great Aunt's house (on Mom's side). In the picture, we are at a family get-together, and I'm in my dad's lap. He looks young and handsome -- and happy.
I was delighted to discover that picture. I have very few pictures of my dad at all, especially from his younger days. A couple of years ago, I got a copy of his baby picture from my grandmother. I treasure it, too.
If these memories were all I had of life with my dad, it wouldn't be bad at all. I wish I could say that the good outweighed the bad, but it didn't. These few happy memories are just about it, while there are decades worth of alcohol abuse, disappointments, empty promises, and long absences. When I think about what kind of legacy or inheritance that I will receive from my father, I don't think of money or property, or even time, memories, or values. I think of how much I hoped and prayed for a husband who was different from that. I didn't know if there were any men in the world who could be sober, faithful, reliable, responsible, and godly all at the same time. He doesn't know it, but my dad's legacy for me is my desire to create a new legacy for my own family. In a way, I owe it to him (and to the lessons I learned from my mom) that I married a great man.
We have never celebrated holidays with my dad. We don't have Thanksgiving dinner or exchange Christmas or birthday presents. If I can find one generic enough and if I know where to send it, I usually mail a Father's Day card to him. I may try to reach him by phone. So, Father's Day still finds me feeling somewhere in between. Not only is there a disconnect between my father and me, I haven't yet fulfilled the dream of celebrating my own husband on Father's Day. Right now I can only imagine a time when it will be a day for us to celebrate together.