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A Midlife Crisis Brought Me and My Father Together

Finding hope in estranged relationships.

By Brooke CowleyPublished 6 years ago 3 min read

My mother has been married three times. First marriage was with my biological father who turned out to be abusive towards her and continued to be emotionally abusive to me and my younger sister.

Fast forward a few years when Matt came along. My stepfather who I started to call “Daddy” before he proposed to my mom. They had my sister out of wedlock and married a few months later after her birth. Then a couple years later, Sister #3 is here.

We seemed to have it all together. You got a Mom, Dad, and kids in the picture. My dad worked a lot of hours as a police officer for Weber County. When he came home, the first thing he would do is sit on the couch and watch baseball.

I wanted to build my relationship with him by making conversation.

“How was work, Dad?”


He kept his eyes on the screen.

“So Dad, guess what happened today? I kicked in a goal during recess!”


All I got were one word answers. His eyes never met mine. I thought maybe he was just tired. This went on for years when I begged for dad’s attention. He wasn’t very much involved. Mom made all the decisions, laid down the rules, and talked to us when we needed someone.

In ninth grade, my mom sat me down in the kitchen before I was leaving for school and told me they were getting divorced.

Devastating, right? I’ve wanted dad’s attention and he has to leave. It felt like I didn’t have my dad whether he lived in the house or not. So what would change?

Junior year of high school, my aunt (dad’s sister) was murdered in a motel room in Salt Lake City. Later that year, he was involved in a shooting where he watched half of his friends get shot and one in critical condition. He had to carry his friend three blocks from the house to an ambulance. He died later that night.

Matt has always been closed off. Never talked about my Aunt Jessica or the shooting. He closed himself more and more as time went on.

After the divorce, I was very resentful towards him. I know he could’ve been more involved with me and the girls. Why didn’t he just try harder? Did he love me even when I wasn’t his own flesh and blood?

Matt’s brother, Nate, and wife, Steph, invited me over to hang out a few months ago.

“You know your dad’s staying with us, right?” Steph says.

“No”, I reply.

Shocker. Dad didn’t tell me what was going on. He just lets everyone else do his job to tell me when we have a family party or a huge event happens. We were never really close.

Matt remarried to my stepmom after the divorce. But recently, they have been separated for personal reasons. I found out he drove up to Idaho the previous day to stay in the cabin over the weekend. He needed time to be by himself. It was odd for him to do something like this.

I knew something was wrong.

I called him to make sure he was okay. Marital problems can take a huge toll on an individual.

He knew he was having a hard time and he didn’t want to admit it. He told me he was alright.

I said, “No, you’re not fine.”

That’s when the closed door to our relationship started to unlock.

The next week, I went to visit him. I pulled him aside. He told me everything. He talked about how much things have changed for him recently. He claimed to have a midlife crisis.

He told me he was sorry. Sorry for not being there. Sorry for not being the dad we needed him to be. Sorry for not staying close when times got hard.

Now he wanted to make amends and be closer to us now that we are getting older.

I think having his sister die and be involved with tragic events really changed him. He never wanted to talk about those things.

From that night on, he was open and honest about his feelings.

He held that key to unlock that closed door between us.

I wish I didn’t resent him before. I’m sad it took him this long to get here. But I’m happy to call him my dad. He is still the goofy, beer-drinking, football-loving guy I’ve known. But he became more than that.

He became my father that day.


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