My Old Man

My father passed away seven years ago and, because of the nature of our damaged relationship, it’s not often that I put much thought into it. I hope that doesn’t make me a bad person. However, without having a working knowledge of what it was like to live with the man, it would probably be hard for a person to understand how I might be the way I am.

I’m sure he didn’t mean for things to turn out the way they did. The years leading up to his death were preceded by severe alcohol abuse, possible depression, an inability to work, divorce and fast deterioration of his body (at the end). I remember my dad telling me once that, “he didn’t care what I thought of him as a person as long as he raised me to be a good person.” I feel like he might have been successful. I’m doing okay. I suspect that it was more to do with not wanting to be the kind of father and husband that he modeled for me more than it was any positive behavior that I was able to glean from him.

Yeah, I’m still a little bitter.

My daughter has a  letter sitting on her dresser that he wrote for her when she was born. It’s very sweet and packed full of promises to be in her life. That lasted for about a year. I remember going over to his house for Halloween when Sydney was just a few years old. He had an entire gallon ziplock bag packed full of candy and treats for her. He was so proud of that little girl. Of course, at that time, he was sober but not for long.

My parents divorced long before I got married and had children. My mother got remarried to a great man. My wife’s father passed away about ten days before mine so Lonnie is the only “Papa” (or pops, as Caleb has started calling him) that they know. I know that “it is what it is”. However, I often wonder what life could have been like if things had turned out differently.

My dad always had a problem with alcohol but it didn’t seem to be a serious problem until he reached a point where he couldn’t work anymore. What happened to him, you might ask?

Well, I’m not entirely sure when it happened. I mean, he threw out his back while he was working for World Color Press in Salem, IL. That was some time before I was in high school. So, late 80’s, I guess. But, I think he was having problems with his back well before then.

He worked for my grandfather (mom’s dad) at the family business for some years before this. My grandfather owned and operated his own plumbing and electrical business. He held the licenses needed to provide services. Multiple family members worked as laborers with him, doing the work. From what I have been told, dad messed up his back hauling pipe. I don’t remember dad ever working for grandpa so this would have been when I was very young.

What’s your point, Strange? What is with all of this rambling?

I’m getting there.

Dad would have worked for my grandpa in the late ’70s or early ’80s. He died in 2012. That’s something like 35 to 40 years that this took place in. That’s a long time to die slowly. This might seem a little extreme to say but I firmly believe that it was then that my father started to die, just not physically.

See, sometimes we make monumental mistakes in a single moment where life changes forever. Many times, life breaks down just a little bit at a time. Then, the next thing you know, you’re sitting in a hospital room with someone that lived in the same house with you for a few years and your not sure how you got there.

Own every single moment of your life people.

You can’t take them back.

Life is Strange. Live it Well.

7 thoughts on “My Old Man

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  1. You are a wonderful writer. It’s just like sitting down and having a conversation with you! You should consider writing a book. I would definitely read it. I don’t really remember your dad very well. However, you come from a wonderful family and I know that has made all the difference for you. Keep writing! I’ll keep reading!

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  2. I totally feel you on this. Very emotional & well written.
    You are a great GODLY man and a loving husband & father. You have successfully broken a chain that would have led you down to a road of sorrow & regret.
    I’m blessed to call you my friend.

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  3. Made me a little sad reading this…. I choose to remember your dad as fun, caring and having a soft soul that poured out some beautiful poetry. He was the (older) guy who made sure I got home safely many, many times when I was out doing… well, things that I shouldn’t have been doing. This is a CHOICE I make… I know there Is much more to his story. I was around to see the beginning of that guy disappearing. I moved away for several years & came back to find nothing of the guy I’d once known. It’s heartbreaking to see the damage people inflict on themselves and their families by the choices they make. You’re a fine man in spite of it, or maybe because of it. Blessings to you & yours, Zach.

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    1. Thanks for saying that Franny. I wish I could have known my dad before alcoholism really started setting in. I really don’t remember a time, other than a three year stretch when he lived with my grandma, when he was sober.

      I was just talking to my wife a few days ago about how different two different peoples opinions of one individual can be based on their experiences with him/her. I wish mine had been better.

      I’m not proud of the fact that he passed and it really didn’t effect me much. Elisa thinks that I never properly grieved dad’s passing. I think that I grieved his passing years before it actually happened.

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