My own father and I have a complicated history. He hung the moon for me as a little girl. He played in the floor, tickled, gave me little gifts. We went on “dates” together to get icecream or donuts and hot chocolate.
Then something happened about when I hit first grade. I did not understand it. I blamed myself at first. He became angry. Even violent. He scared me. He stopped showing affection or love or joy. Gone. He was gone. Unreachable. And he never came back.
We lived in the same house but I barely knew that man. I could not bring myself to call him daddy. He was my father, nothing more. Distance as a means of self preservation, maybe for the both of us?
I wish I could say that I have risen above wanting to have his approval, no longer caring that I don’t have some sort of meaningful relationship with him. Probably, though, that will follow me around for the rest of my days as a sore spot, a gaping hole in my life. And maybe that is good on some level that I do still care, that I have not let anger and hate stamp all of that humanity out of me.
So after my post “Daddy” yesterday, I thought about what I would say to my father now that I am grown if dementia had not already taken a foothold. What did I need from him growing up? What do I wish I had from him now? What do I want other dads to know about their own daughters’ needs?
First: I needed for him to show respect to my mother. (I value her means I value you.)
Second: To show me affection, even when I did not want it. Even when I was not very lovable. Hugs that were not forced or awkward, strong big hugs that can wrap around a stony heart and break down its walls.
Third: I wish he had told me about himself. His past. His hopes and dreams. His insecurities. I think I could have learned a ton from him about love and life if he had just let me in.
Fourth: I wish he had wanted to talk to me about me. My own hopes and dreams, my insecurities. I wish he had known me then, that he knew the woman I am now.
We waited too long to bridge that chasm. Even standing near now, we are never touching, close but not close. Two towers, strong and straight, unbending. Like father, like daughter. Now the man that he was is lost in the fog, slipping away.