For years, I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions where Father’s Day was concerned. Because of my complicated relationship with my parents, I’ve been mostly estranged from them. Holidays celebrating what parents are supposed to be has not been my cup of tea. But this year, things are very different.
My grandmother died in April, and her death destroyed my family. The cancer she left untreated among her children by having favorites has spread and leaving her lineage in a terminal state. My grandmother’s unfinished business concerning her last will and testament was a devastating slap in the face to my father, a man who has already fallen once because of the weight of carrying his ungrateful family since he was 6–7 years old.
My dad was my grandmother’s rock, helping her raise 8 children before she finally remarried. Life was hard, but my grandma groomed my dad to be what she needed him to be until life got better for her. My dad has spent his entire life being his mother’s safety net, a financial safety net, big brother, and father-figure to his younger siblings, and an example of a man for countless nieces and nephews. Now he’s almost 70-years old, and he’s evaluating his life, questioning whether his loyalty to his family was displaced.
I say yes.
Finally, I think to myself, my father finally see what my siblings and I have always seen. I believe my grandmother had parenting and grand parenting issues. She was a severely flawed woman. She’d groomed my dad not to see her flaws, but in the final years of my grandma’s life, the veil fell off. All the ways my grandmother used my dad financially were finally exposed. When my dad started calling my grandma out on her biases and her preferential treatment, she began treated him like a child instead of the co-parent, safety net, and golden child he once was. Suddenly, my dad’s relationship changed with his mother.
My dad began to pull away, not because he was angry, but because he began to see how toxic she was and how unhealthy she was for his emotional well-being. He barely saw her during the final days of her life because his siblings had isolated her to squander what little wealth she gained during her 90-years here on earth. My dad finally saw the rotten fruit my grandmother had produced, and he wanted nothing to do with any of it. His sobriety was depending on it. His therapist had advised him that his mother was the root of his stress. He was taking heed to protect his sanity.
With the loss of his siblings after the death of my grandma, my dad was forced to rekindle relationships with his own children — with me in particular.
Before my grandmother’s death. I hadn’t spoken to my father for almost two-years. I had gone through a few years of inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation because of his alcohol addiction, family squabbles with his siblings because of overreaching, and moodiness after loosing his business because of the 2008 economic crash and the stress of it all. One day he was grumpy with me for no reason, and I fell off the earth like I do from time to time. I spent my childhood being mistreated instead of loved, so I don’t tolerate that anymore in my life. I respectfully disappear.
We all have shit to deal with. Some of us are just respectful and know how to not dump our shit onto the people we love.
When my grandma died, my dad shared with me what was going on with he and his siblings. I knew they broke him. They hurt him. He needed me. So, I stepped into the role I’ve had to step into so many times before.
I had to become his “big girl,” his oldest child. I was the strong one, his thinker. I became the responsible one.
I acknowledged I am what I am because I’ve watched him do the same for his family. I know it’s not being the rock for everyone. I also know most times, no one remembers that the rock needs a rock from time to time.
Throughout my life, my dad has been there for me and my sons when it counted. Like my dad taught them (and me) about his automotive business and allowed my sons to work for him in the summers when school was out. My dad gave me a much-needed break as a single parent. My dad took my sons on family vacations, long road trips to watch my siblings graduate from Air Force Basic Training. He fixed our cars free, even when my sons went off to college. He supported my sons when they were middle and high-school student athletes, traveling hours from home and closing his shop early to watch them play football and run track.
My dad helped me purchase school clothes for my sons. I didn’t ask, he just did it because he knew what it was like to go to school without. He gave my sons that Black man moral supports, pep talks, prepared countless family dinners, and gave plenty of harsh ass chewing outs when they were required, like only a loving father and grandfather could. My dad was a good man as I recall all that he’s done.
He still is.
As I’ve aged, I’ve noticed time goes by a lot faster than it used to. My father is also getting older. He has lots of things to say to me, specifically to me, about family stories and secrets. I need to get the things he has for me. Perhaps I might finally learn why our family is so dysfunctional. There is no time to be a strong woman lathered and glowing in feminism.
I will miss very important nuggets of wisdom if I don’t put my priorities in order. He’s talking, and I’m listening.
My new found respect for my dad during this difficult period in his life has caused me to reevaluate my own feelings about the respect and honor I felt he was due because of his well-meaning, imperfect parenting. I must weigh the good and bad of life to decide which side of the scale I will allow to be the heaviest. I am the judge. I have the final decision.
I’m choosing my dad’s good parts. From this year forward, the past is the past. I will love him (and his wife, my stepmom) like it’s the end of the world and it’s our last day on earth.
I have a renewed appreciation for good fathers, and the invaluable things they offer their to their children, their extended families, and the world. I’m going to re-insert Father’s day to the few observances I partake of each year.
As we age, I believe we need to reap some of the good fruit we’ve sown into the world, in particular, to our families.
I want my father to see and enjoy his good fruit while he is alive. I don’t want him to have to wonder if we know how good he’s been to us. I appreciate and value his efforts.
I’m celebrating Father’s Day this year, and every year, from now on.
© 2019 Marley K. All rights reserved.
If you enjoyed this story, you may enjoy this these stories to help you understand my family dysfunction and where it stems.
“My Father Made A Profound Impact In My Life” by Marley K. https://link.medium.com/TABPqUozyX
“She: The Woman I’m Forced To Call My Mother” by Marley K. https://link.medium.com/BZXpcdkzyX