This is a picture of my father. He was born 89 years ago today and is three years old in this picture. He had his sight at the time of this picture. At age fifteen he lost 98% of his sight. He and his friends would hunt in the woods and drink homemade hootch. Sometimes things like gasoline would be added to it. Ignorance is definitely not bliss. Of his group of friends, my father was the only one drinking bad homemade brew and it caused major damage to his optic nerves. I don't know what it would be like to be legally blind, but by the time I came to know him he was a very unhappy man. Just about every day I was around him which wasn't all the time as a young child, my father drank. A lot.
My brother and I watched our father lose control and a sadistic streak take over. He would burn our mother with matches and cigarettes and choke her. The spankings with a belt left my brother wounded and cut and bruised. He poured beer down the throat of my cat. His impulsive behavior affected each of us and stayed with us many years. Ironic that my father was the first one in our family to pass away.
By the time he died, I had come to terms with my feelings about my father. I had let go of the need to seek him out periodically in whatever state or country he would be residing, to try to establish a father-daughter relationship. The last time I traveled to see my father (my first husband), I left my then two young children with their father and I planned on spending a few days with my dad. He didn't make any physical advances to me, but when I arrived at his place he told me I would have to sleep in his bed with him as he didn't have any guest room for me. And he proceeded to tell me that he slept in the nude. I insisted that sleeping on his couch would be better for me. I thought I was just being silly about the uncomfortable feeling I was getting when he spoke of the sleeping arrangements.
The next day my father and I flew to another place to do some sight seeing. When we were checking into a hotel my father told the desk clerk we wanted a king bed. I spoke up and told the desk clerk that he was my father and we wanted two rooms. Things did not go well and after one day of sight seeing I told my father I was going home early. I changed my reservation and left that day.
That was the first time I found a therapist and visited her a few times. I was depressed after the time I spent with my father. The therapist helped me understand that I was repeatedly looking for my father to be something he just could not be. He could not be a father like I wanted. It was not going to happen. Finally I was able to let go and get on with my life. Not that I was suddenly healthy emotionally, just that the one expectation regarding my father was no longer bringing me disappointment and pain.
Over the years since my father passed away in 1986 I have continued to work on my own unhealthy survival behavior that I adopted while living with an emotionally disturbed mother and an alcoholic father. Today I send my father understanding and love to the best of my ability. The scars have pretty much healed within me, and I hope that wherever he is, his scars have healed and his sight is completely restored.
This is not a sad post. This is me, fumbling along in a lifetime of recovery, grateful for the redemption.