Continuing in the last vein of thought, I’m looking back over my life with my father. Much of it was harsh but in the end, I felt we made a strong closure.
My dad only passed in the last decade so naturally his memories are stronger in my mind and nothing has blurred. I remember the early days with him when my foster mom was still alive. I remember moving from Louisiana to East TX with an extended layover in Houston.1 I remember how happy my dad was to be in the country.2 I remember how he embraced our new life in the wilderness. He was a man alive and it was obvious he loved his life at that time. I remember him building our house. I remember being curled up in his lap sitting in the giant window overlooking the new wilderness we lived in. I remember him reading to me in that same window. His reading sparked my own love of reading and zest for knowledge. I remember him guiding and counseling me when I was plagued by nightmares and spirits. He didn’t make fun of me or make light of what I was feeling. I remember the pain in his face when my mom started getting really sick. I remember the nights after she died when he would pass out drunk on the floor in misery. I remember not understanding how someone so big and strong in my eyes was capable of tears. I remember the sadness that came after. I remember being left with my older brother while he worked longer and longer hours.
A couple years later, I can remember meeting what would become my new step-mother. I can remember seeing my dad smile again. I remember how that first year with her was warm and good. I can remember the birth of my younger brother and how happy it made him. I can also remember how hard he worked just to keep clothes on our back. I can remember seeing him so tired from manual labor he would sleep for a solid night and day to recover.
Unfortunately, I can remember the growing rift my step-mother forced between us. I can remember the lies she told him to prevent me from telling him what was really going on. I can remember the bouts of anger when he would lash out at me. I can remember the bruises that remained after. I can remember the day I came out to him when he hurt me like he’d never hurt me before. I can remember for the first time in my life being afraid of him. I can remember the anguish knowing he didn’t love me anymore and that in his eyes I no longer existed. I can remember wondering why I couldn’t be like his real sons. I remember the many years never speaking, never knowing if he ever thought of me.
I remember when he got sick, the kind of sick you don’t recover from. I can remember my brothers telling me to hurry back home before it was too late. I can remember seeing the husk of what used to be a strong/vibrant man, now ravaged by cancer. I can remember for only the 2nd or 3rd time in my life seeing my father cry as he told me for the very first time he regretted what he did to me. I remember seeing the relief that flooded his soul upon hearing I had forgiven him years before for all that he had done. I remember him telling me he loved me and that he was proud of the man I had become. I remember him not wanting me to go when I left to return to SF. I remember knowing in my heart that he would be dead soon. I remember the call sitting in my voicemail when arriving in SF that he had passed. I remember the relief I felt for him then and now. I remember being happy I could give him peace before he died.
Dad, I wish our time together had been longer. I wish we hadn’t lost so many years while I was growing up. I miss the bond we had when I was young and you were my shining light in the darkness of a big bad scary world. We weren’t the closest but I still remember the good that you gave me.