With each passing Father’s Day I am left with the wonderings of what could have been. I ponder the relationship my Dad could have had with my children. I am curious how we would have gotten along as adults. I imagine how he would have loved joining us for boat rides in the summer months. Unfortunately, however, these will always be thoughts drifting in and out of my mind as the years pass. I will never know the answers to these questions as my father passed away at the age of 46 – 14 years ago.
Prior to his death, he yoyo’d throughout my young life. Sometimes he was around and other times, I wouldn’t hear from him in over a year. After my parent’s divorce, his logistics were consistently unpredictable. But even so, I still felt I was ‘daddy’s girl’ and I would defend him and always forgive any neglect. That is, until I had enough.
Around age 17, I became resentful and angry. He left me and didn’t care and that is all I knew. When he did come around, he would lay on stories as excuses which resembled movie plots. And when I was not receptive, I was made to feel guilty. This only encouraged my anger and I began ignoring him. I would not answer his calls or visit. Even when I knew he was in and out of the hospital for his many problems (which I thought were all self induced or even made up) – I avoided him the best I could.
Now I am here – 20 years later – willing to give almost anything to answer one of his calls. Be it full of complaining or lies or guilt ridden indignation, I would love to hear his voice. I would be thrilled to have him kick my butt in Trivial Pursuit or give me the play by play on The Godfather trilogy. His practical jokes would undoubtedly send my kids into hysterics.
I have seen a lot of family tension these days. Whether it is political or economical or due to mental illness – there are many loved ones whom are estranged and at odds. Sometimes one silly argument can send a family into a pattern of contempt which lasts for years.
I am here to tell you – and to remind myself – you must do what you can to avoid this in your life. There are times when reconciliation is not the best choice, when it is not healthy or even possible. But most often, it is. And you do not have to cultivate some kind of false closeness to assure closure. Many times it may just be a matter of saying, “I forgive you” or “I am sorry”.
The point is to not allow for lives to pass by and wind up regretting outcomes which were completely avoidable. Say the words you need to say now while you have the opportunity. Show the love, explain your pain, reach out your hand…once you do, it doesn’t even matter how the other person responds. You will know you did what you could. You will have that peace throughout the years to come.
At 23 years old, I sat in a hospital room as my unrecognizable father took a sip of coffee and then his last breath. Just the two of us in that room and though I did say I love you – there was so much I did not say. There was so much he never said. Those sentiments will forever be out there in the universe and reside in my heart. But I wish they could have been communicated when the opportunity existed.
Don’t let your words pass you by. Each moment is one which could be our last, each day is an occasion to change the way our souls will feel decades later. Make choices today which will provide your tomorrow with peace.