Good Dad. Bad Dad. Only Dad.
40 years, and it still smarts.
My dad died November 21, 1970 and there isn't' a day that passes that I don't think about he or my mom,who would pass 26 years later.
My father wasn't perfect--far from it, in fact. But, he was the only dad I had and I still wish he was around, if nothing else to show him how things turned out, including the two wonderful grand-kids who never got to meet.
Dad had plenty of demons and they made their presence felt around the house, more frequently in his later years when booze became his hobby of choice. He never beat me, and always made sure that we had food, a place to live and what passed for decent clothes. The rest of the paycheck, as mom put it, "got shot over the bar."
I wish he would've been more accessible and less drunk. I hoped he'd spend more time teaching me how to throw a baseball or toss up a respectable jump shot, but more often than not he was sleeping off a bender on the couch.
A lot was left to my mom, especially when he got diagnosed with cancer. The process accelerated with his death, leaving her a single parent. She pulled it off masterfully.
The anniversary of my father's passing reminds me of the lost opportunities he and I had, but also of the blessing that my mother was in making sure I never felt "different." Single parents weren't the norm the way they are today, but the only time we felt out of the ordinary was during school events where everyone else had a mom and a dad on hand.
A new study released this very week shows that our faith in marriage is crumbling and that our definition of "family" is far different than the 1950's model many of us assumed to be the norm. The older I get, the more I realize that very few of us came from Beaver Cleaver households. Divorce, death, disharmony and dysfunction are far more common than the black and white sitcoms led us to believe.
That doesn't make us bad people. And hopefully, it'll make us better parents, as we glean from our moms and dads that which we want to emulate or, in the case of my own father, not repeat.
That's what I'll remember about my dad Sunday as I mark the 40 years since his passing. The good. The bad. And, if I learned nothing else it's that time is borrowed and that we never know when ours will run out. Count the blessings, and take advantage of every opportunity. That's the lesson of the past four decades.
For that I say, "Thanks, Dad."