Love on the Rocks

Back in June, after attending a friend’s wedding, I wrote a letter to my father. It seems appropriate to include it here today, the day that marks thirteen years of his passing.

I woke up remembering him. Not in the usual way, fleetingly, but with a fierce tenderness. When I say I miss him, I miss what could have been and some of what actually was. The truth is that my father was a wonderful man with an addiction to alcohol and a proclivity for passive aggressive silence. Without “should-ing” all over myself, I realize that thirteen years is a long time and that by now, maybe I should be over a lot of the wounds from my pre-teen and teen years. If knowing is half the battle, then I am half-way there. It isn’t far along enough but it is something.

The familiarity of feeling is what I continue to seek out: the deep love entwined with an inability to express it, the tender heart matched with silence, the sorrow drowned in some deep well, the pulling in and the pushing away, the feeling of unworthiness. I learned a lot by loving my father- his imperfections, his rawness, his talents and his heart. And whether I like it or not, how I love now has a lot to do with how I learned to love back then. This is where therapy has been helpful.

My dad was a jokester and loved to laugh. With a drink in his hand, he would work the parties my mom and he threw in the 70′s and 80′s. Friends would flock, poolside, sipping beers and mixed drinks, devouring my mom’s Swedish meatballs, stuffed buns and chex party mix. They’d get wild and by the night’s end, people would be thrown into the pool. At one particular party their friend, who was drenched from his impromptu swim, had the brilliant idea to dry out his wet wallet in the microwave. Credit cards and all. Sparks flew from behind the glass door and everyone laughed. The smell of burnt plastic lingered in the kitchen until morning.

Those were jovial times. Friends and family were always visiting. Vacations were taken. Love was felt. I was a lucky kid growing up with such attentive and affectionate parents. There are a wealth of rich memories from that time buried beneath the debris of a family breaking apart. As I unearth them, these treasures, I catalog each one for prosperity. I want to remember the good along with the bad. The truth has two sides.

There are always going to be bad things that people have to survive . . . I have come to realize it is what you make of the good things that matters more.

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16 thoughts on “Love on the Rocks

  1. you made me cry. I have some very severe feelings for my father, I have many “should-ofs” with him, of what he should have or not have done as a father….but, I still have a father. I realize how much I take him for granted…even if he can be a bastard.
    thanks for showing me the light
    Supple

  2. “by now, maybe I should be over a lot of the wounds from my pre-teen and teen years.”

    yeah, I know what you mean. Letting go of it probably starts with choosing to do so, but it’s not easy because moving on means you have to change. Even the negative can become familiar, even comfortable in its own way.

  3. Sizz, I’m sorry for what you had to go through, glad that you’re able to remember all the good stuff so well and impressed that you’ve turned into the person you are.

    And: holy shit. The more I read, the more I think, “we have a LOT in common…”

  4. I don’t think we can tell anyone they SHOULD be over something no matter now long its been. Some wounds heal very slowly. Some never heal – its different for each person. The important thing is you have a healthy outlook on the whole thing! ;)

  5. One of the great puzzles of life: what we love about someone is often the thing we end up hating about them, often the reason many relationships crap out.

    My father was a drunk and I use to a hate him. I don’t anymore. I actually remember the good times far more than the bad ones. And I also see much of him in me.

    In the end, people are people and parents, suprisingly, are people too. They ride the rollercoaster the same way we do and they manage and fuck up and muddle through just like anyone.

    I don’t think my father became an alcoholic because he was predisposed to, though that may have been part of it. I think he did because he surrendered his passion to do what he thought he was supposed to – good respectable job to pay bills, provide a house and home and do what men of his generation were supposed to do. And he absolutely hated it. Absolutely hated it. But the bills were paid!

    I think we all confuse what we think we should do and what we actually should do all the time.

  6. My mom has always told me that parents do the best they can at the time. I’m so glad to see that through all of the pain and heartache, you can still see the beauty and the love he showed you, even with his problems.

    Beautiful Sizz, you’re in my thoughts today.

  7. Absolutely beautiful. Like you, I still mark the anniversaries of my father. I don’t know if I should, I don’t know if I shouldn’t, I just know that I do. You think of all the conversations you want to have, the good times they are missing, the memories you could be making. It’s one of the most difficult things to go through, but the Tomato was right, it really is better to live a celebrated life rather than being haunted by the unknown.

    I’ve thought of your sister since you told us all that she was pregnant and wondered if she feels some of the sadness that my own sister feels when she thinks of all the things Daddy is missing with her children.

    Again, a beautiful and thoughtful post.

  8. i love how much this post captures how many different feelings we can have about the people we love. thank you for sharing. ;)

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