Today seems like a fitting day to write about my dad. I am a little surprised that I have never written about him. I recently realized that I have shared so much here....but never anything about him.
He married my mom when she was 7 months pregnant with me...he was not my biological father, but the only father I ever knew. I think back on him and the words "hard ass" come to mind. lol He meant well, but he was a hard ass. He could be a cruel bully, but he also was there for us if we ever needed anything. Repairs, money, a ride, a good dinner. He was the first person I ever heard use the words "fucking cunt." I have been thinking today what it felt like to be him. What place did he operate from? Anger and fear and feeling like he wasn't enough....is my guess.
He passed away in 1999. He had congestive heart failure and was 73 years old at the time. My mom and I drove to see him, and he was awake and talked to us, my mom held his feet and said, where he could hear...."Oh your feet are cold. I don't think it will be long Bob." I was shocked. "Mommmm!" But that was them....very real. We stayed a long time, my mom was concerned about him dying and being all alone ....but eventually we headed for home. We lived about 3 hours away from the hospital. 45 minutes after we got home, we got the call that he had passed away. My mom said, "Ohhhh that is so like him. Waits until we leave to go!" They had had a very tumultuous marriage filled with lots of alcohol, pills, and violence...but had remained "friends" through the years.
He was cruel to her in every way imaginable.....and I will leave it at that.
My dad had been an electrician at a ship yard until he had a heart attack, that he drove himself to the hospital to be treated for. I was in the first grade and I was terrified that he would die. He retired after that and my mom was the bread winner. He stayed home with us and he cooked our meals and made desserts all the time. When we got home from school, he was there.
His parents had immigrated to America to Ellis Island from Russia. It was quite the story...they met and got married and began their family in Honolulu. They raised their kids there for 20 years. My dad told stories of climbing coconut trees with his bare feet....so he could hang on like a monkey. He would buy us sugar cane when we were little so that we could experience chewing on that stringy grainy stalk. Or coconuts that he would drive nails into so we could suck the milk out...it wasn't really very good. We ate crab legs on a regular basis.
He was "so smart he has no common sense" my mom would say. When I look back, I think she may have been right. He and my mom had a little boy 2 years after my arrival. That boy was worshiped as being the man-child who would carry on the family name. His true blood child...unlike myself.
A turning point in our relationship was after I had had my first baby. I went to visit him and he started yelling and getting agitated about something....I don't remember what now. I told him he could stop yelling or I was going to leave. I would come back and we could try again another day. He didn't stop, so I packed up my little baby and our stuff and we left. I came back again in a couple weeks. I didn't mention the last visit, but just started fresh with him. I never had a problem again with him. As a matter of fact, he acted like he really liked me. He told me I was a wonderful mother, he liked the way we were raising our kids. He would send me interesting articles and books. It was a good time for us. Once we moved away out of our childhood area, he would make the long drive to see us. I would make a big lunch and he would talk to the kids.....he really enjoyed them so much. He was interested in all of their "stuff." Our son started playing football as a little boy and my dad was just beyond himself with joy and pride! My dad truly was a genius...literally. On paper. lol He had a photographic memory and would quote long pieces of poetry to the kids about whatever they happened to be studying. I remember hearing one in particular about Ancient Rome. I was so impressed.
When he died, he left my mom instructions to continue to send money to a woman who was incarcerated in a prison somewhere. He had a little amount set aside that my mom was to disperse to this woman monthly. She was his "soul mate" and he believed that they would be together again in another life. We also found years of daily journals filled with the date, the temperature, the weather, and a few words about what he did that day. It was actually kind of fascinating.
When he died, I felt nothing. No grief, no crying, he was just gone. I feel that every life has worth....his held worth to someone, I know that my life would have been very different without him in it.
I hope this post doesn't sound vindictive or filled with resentment. I don't feel like that about him. I feel like he did the best he knew how to do. He was a man with a lot of complicated issues and that is ok. He bulldozed through his life, hurting people a long the way....but so have I at various times in my life. Thinking I knew best, thinking if I yelled loud enough or controlled events I would make everything be ok. I however, can promise you that I do not have a secret prison love interest that I am funneling our hard earned money to. LOL
I also married a very different man than my father.....God's mercy at work.
Happy Father's Day to all of the dad's out there who have tried their hardest to be good men and do right by their kids. Bless your hearts.