It was only after my mother’s passing that I truly learned my father’s love and dedication for his family
My father was an over the road truck driver when I was growing up. He was home maybe one night a week. We never had family dinners or family vacations. He never attended any school awards ceremony I had or a school play that I was cast in. He never went with us to church. People always thought I never had a father, no one asked about him, no one mentioned his name. It was assumed he was just like all the other MIA dads. Long gone and long forgotten by the family.
When I graduated High School, he retired as a truck driver. He was promoted to a desk job at the same company he worked for. It seemed ironic that the minute I left to go to college, he was suddenly home every night. Home with my mom to eat dinner, home to watch TV with and to share with her his hobby of fishing. I resented him for that for many years. At the time, I never understood why he had to wait until I left the house to suddenly make his presence be known at home.
I did all the things that people do as they progress through life. I got my education, got married, had a family and my dad was right in the thick of things. I was still not very close to him. I am very good at holding grudges and I couldn’t get over the fact that he was not there during my formidable years.
My mother died seven years ago, quite suddenly in fact. Her death affected all of kids and my father deeply. He didn’t eat, he couldn’t sleep, and he actually suffered a heart attack less than a year after she died. I had no idea how much he loved her and how much he missed her. He really never showed affection much, but the older I got I realized how much he did show affection- in his own way.
What I took for his absence when I was a child was his was of supporting his family. I always was jealous of my friends and seeing their fathers participate in all of their activities. It never occurred to me that my father couldn’t do it because he was working-the one way he could show his family that he loved them because he couldn’t muster up the words to say it. His way of showing love was giving us money for new school clothes every summer, feeding us, paying the bills so we had a place to live. I was so young and naïve at the time I just didn’t see it.
My father is in his late 80’s now, and he is making up for all the years of him not communicating his love for his family. He tells me he loves me every time I talk to him and expresses regret for being gone during my childhood years. I tell him now that I understand why he was gone, and I hold no grudge or hard feeling towards him. He did what he had to do for his family, and he does not need to apologize for that. He states his greatest regret in life is not being around while us kids were growing up, but I told him he was a wonderful father because he made sure all of our needs we met. So many children cannot say the same. We both have found peace in these last few years; It took my mother’s death for us both to see it.