Monday, August 14, 2006

Daddy's little girl (this could be long)

There is no doubt that I am a daddy's little girl. I always have been, and I fear I always will be. My dad was the hero that brightened up each and every day. He was the one who loved me unconditionally, carefully covered all of my school books with paper bags, he and I had our special outings, and he was the one to wipe away the tears when the world was cruel . . .


Then the story comes to a halt. My dad, while I love and adore him, had so many faults, yet I am blinded to them-in a way that has alienated me for years from my mother, and recently has made it hard for me to hold my father accountable for his actions-or lack of actions which I will get into in a minute. (how was that for a run on sentence!)

My father was a hard working man-worked day and night to keep us all fed and clothed-and to support his drinking habit. He was not the kind of drunk that stumbled in and made a scene, but he was just not there. I am grateful that he was not the kind of man that was angry and mean when he was drunk, but I am sure it made my mother's life crazy, and she ended up being the disciplinarian of three kids, one of whom had special needs. Mom would set limits and dad would come home like a knight in shining armor. I hated her, and I told her so-ALOT.

When we moved at age 11, my father was told he could stop drinking and come with us, or he could find another place to live. He never drank again. To this day he won't really even try wine if we bring something fun home or ask him to try something. I always thought the world of my dad to be able to stop cold-turkey in order to be with his family. Whether he stopped for real on that very day was not important, but none of us ever saw him drink/drunk again.

He commuted three hours daily to work after we moved, and provided monetarily for us. In the meantime I was experiencing things at home that parents just should not let happen. Mom was out of control, brother was out of control, other brother and I were stuck having to deal with it all. I tried to protect one brother, while other brother and mother were raging out of control. Chaos reigned until 4:30pm when dad would walk in, and under strict instructions we behaved and spent time with our father until he went to bed at 7:30pm. During that time mom was also well behaved and there was no yelling or hitting.

I am not sure how much my dad knew about what had been going on. As I went through school-he came to my sporting/music events, he was the one who did not chastise me for getting an A-, but rather encouraged me to do better. Mom would yell at me for not being good enough-nothing was good enough. Though in the face of her rants (the ones he actually saw), he never once stood up for me. When it was time to go to college, I was told I would go to X school if I wanted any help from them. Dad was the one who brought me to the college nights and filled out all the paperwork for me to go to another college-one further away-one that would allow me to escape them all- Yet, he never encouraged me or stood up for me in front of my mother when she would warn that if I left and went to the other school they would not help me. I went anyway, and they did not help me.

In recent years, I have had the courage to tell my father about some of the things that were going on during those years he was working. He has apologized and blamed it all on his poor parenting/drinking/not being there-though I refused to take the bait and say "oh no daddy, it wasn't your fault". Though, in that moment, I had envisioned his reaction to be much different. After all, , how would you react if you found out your daughter had been abused and later raped. He told me it was in the past and I should move on. This was not what I thought he would do all along, I always thought he would be the one to make it all ok. Yet, no matter how much I may believe he had a large part in the mess my life has seen/been, I would never tell him that.

He has been on disability at home for several years now, and he is a changed man.

I have made fun of him for the last few years because he had these dorky old man glasses-I mean really dorky. I would ask him take them off for pictures because he looked so much more handsome without them. He blamed me for being ashamed of him. I remember that when I was younger, maybe 7-8 ish, someone made fun of my dad because of a bump he has on his nose and I was crushed. He picked me up from the activity and I dissolved in tears. How could someone make fun of him?? How?? He got new glasses a few weeks back, and didn't tell me so he could surprise me when I saw him this weekend. He looked so nice-he looked happy when I told him how handsome he looked.

My father is changing. He is not well physically (diabetes, partial blindness) and he is depressed. It is so hard for me to see him in a world where nothing really makes him happy, and his behavior is very erratic. Once minute he is happy and fine, and the next he is yelling and banging things around-all without a clear reason. He and my mother do not appear to get along anymore-they co-exist-and at times will engage in a kind interaction. My mother will tell me one thing about him, then he will tell me about her. This has played out too many times to count over my life, but recently I think my mom is speaking the truth. I think my dad maybe experiencing early signs of dementia, and I worry about him.

I worry each time I see him that it will be the last. I worry that I will never have the relationship I wanted with my father, or that I thought I had with my father. I worry I will have wasted so many years only being mad at my mother when really I should have equally been mad and angry at both of them. I worry about not having him in my life.

I have always said I would not be able to handle the death of one of my brothers, and my father. I have been trying to prepare myself for years for the time when I hear that one or both of them has died. Recently it has been dad I wonder about losing. I wonder what I would have said if I could, what I might have done differently, how one single act could change my family forever. How it could change me forever.

Last night DP and I were discussing my relationship with my father, and even though I want to be mad at him for not helping us this summer while we have cleaned their cluttered, crazy house, I can't. We have given five long weekends now this summer to clean-and I mean clean/scrub/declutter their house. Most times I will give him small duties to do, and he does them grudgingly. But he does nothing more. I asked him to do something for my mother the other day, and after he left, my mother said "see he really does love me". Though he would not have done it if I hadn't asked.

He is so sad and seemingly just waiting to die-and it hurts to watch.

I tried so hard last night not to cry. I closed my eyes tight and willed myself to just go to sleep last night. I didn't have the energy to cry. As the tears found their way out anyway, and the sniffles started, DP was there for me. In the most perfect way-just sat with me, near me, reminding me to breathe. Still, I wished I never had to be thinking about losing my dad-whether physically or mentally.

I wished I didn't have to be such a daddy's girl . . .because then maybe this all wouldn't hurt so much.

1 comment:

CD & SP said...

i know family can hurt you more than you've ever been hurt, but it sounds like you're doing the right thing by being there and helping out your mom and dad. and most of the time, doing the right thing isn't the easiest. for me it's the hardest, so kudos to you for sticking by them, even if it hurts to do it!