I recently began reading the book “becoming myself” by Stasi Eldredge. In it, she points out that, no matter the bad, most often there was also some good in past relationships, so shift your focus to the good things. And there were moments of good. Far too few, but moments to cling to none the less.
Probably some of my earliest memories of my father, though I don’t remember how old I was, but I know there are multiple memories, were being tucked into bed. I loved “butterfly kisses.” In fact, I always thought it was “our thing” until I heard the song of the same name at a wedding decades later. No one understood why the photographer was standing at the edge of the dance floor crying her eyes out.
When I was about six, Dad borrowed a small sailboat from a friend and brought it to our summer cottage in Michigan. I have flashes of images of being on the lake, sun glistening off the water, a gentle breeze moving us along silently, with the only sound being the light slap, slap, slap of the waves on the boat. When Dad would share his memories of this, his recollection was me, stretching out, kicked back in the boat, arms behind my head, saying, “Man, this is living!”
There were many years, and many experiences, that were not nearly this enjoyable. However, in hind sight, and as I search my memory, there were hints of the good man he had been before alcohol took over. I’ve learned to see his goodness through the darkness in which I grew up. Like the time my car broke down while I was delivering newspapers and he came and picked me up at three o’clock in the morning, in the snow, in pajamas and a parka. We loaded my papers into his car, and he drove me to finish my route. No matter how much bad happened before then, or after, on that particular early morning, he was a good, good father.
Thank you, Daddy. I miss you.