The Father I Miss

Father abhorred laziness. “The idle mind is the Devil’s playground!” he’d say. Or: “What are you trying to do; win the horizontal championship?”

Well, I’m the horizontal champion now, thanks to illness. Wonder what he’d say about that? Still, I’m not lazy.

To my face he was hardcore, unless he was soppy drunk, then the he’d tell me how much smarter than him I was, and that he loved me, and ask if I knew that – all very confusing, and somewhat frightening, to be honest.

Sober, we were all goddamn idiots and didn’t know how to do anything right. “You don’t know what problems are,” he was fond of saying if I ever moaned, or: “Take that mood to your room; we don’t want any of it.”

But when severe menstrual pain would double me over, he’d sit at my bedside and apply pressure with a pillow. “Just like I used to do for my sisters.”

And when I moved away from home at the age of seventeen to escape his brutality, he called me every morning to make sure I was okay.

As I say, very confusing.

“Don’t do as I do; do as I say,” was another favourite and one that really riled me. Dad was an alcoholic, with violent tendencies: a brick wall, who declared himself omnipotent. We were to be “seen not heard” and always ushered to bed before he got home from work. He was unpredictable and impulsive, and no matter how hard we tried we could never please him.

And then he bragged about us behind our backs.

In retrospect, he likely suffered PTSD from war time combat (he was a commando on a suicide mission), plus he was born a female in a male body – something I never fully understood until after he was gone.

I know that he believed that God hated him, although he’d always profess that the “Good Lord will provide”; and I know that towards the end of his life he regretted much.

I also recognize, fourteen years after his passing, that I / we missed out on a relationship that might have been.

(The focus for my weekly challenge is: “Things my father said.” )

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Permission to write, paint, and imagine are the gifts I gave myself when chronic illness hit - a fair exchange: being for doing. Relevance is an attitude. Humour essential.

20 thoughts on “The Father I Miss

  1. I see you as a very brave woman V.J who could write about the troubles inside a place called home to outsiders without any hesitation.
    In India people tried to keep mum on such problems as much as possible which leads to destroying lives in or other way.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s interesting how unresolved issues with parents catch us off-guard even as elderly individuals. I didn’t really think about my dad too much until I did the post on him and came to some important realizations. Peace is hard to find at times. Thanks for sharing your story, V.J.

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  3. All of it is heartbreaking–I think confusion is very difficult to deal with, not just for kids but adults too (at least for me it is). What you said at the end really resonates with me…I wish all my family relationships hadn’t been missed opportunities, for one reason or another. Beautifully written, V.J. ❤

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      1. Yes, it was a different time entirely! Not only did few reach outside the family for help–but outsiders who noticed things usually did not “interfere”. I wish they had–particularly a 2nd-grade teacher I had, who took me aside and asked gentle questions…but of course I’d already learned to say everything was “fine”.

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      2. Yes. I’ll always remember that teacher fondly, as it was so nice that someone showed concerned interest. And I think that was enough for me…because I probably knew, even at that young age, that she couldn’t have “fixed” my life.

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  4. I read your father stories with compassion – I wish I knew my dad half as well as you know yours. Mine died when I was 16. He was a withdrawn alcoholic from the time I was 3 or 4. I have only snippets of recall from before the crisis leading to the alcohol refuge. Mine was never violent. Your stories leave me sad (that I have no real conversations to recall) but grateful (that I was never afraid of him). My heart goes out to you for the courage to write out your relationship angst.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Jazz. The greatest tragedy I think my family faced was being alone with no one to talk to outside our troubled walls. Community is important when going through tough times and we could never let anyone in.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Such tough memories. The “what ifs” and “if onlys” can be so difficult, even years later. And confusing, contradictory messages are so upsetting no matter what age you are. Powerful post.

    Liked by 1 person

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