Dear??? Old Dad

I am reading all of these posts about Dear Old Dad, endearing and thoughtful. I have to tell you my dad was a smart ass, a real wise ass having a witty remark for anything anyone ever said to him.

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He started out as a State Park ranger, then a truck driver. After a bad accident, in which he was not hurt, but scared enough to find a new career, he started selling life insurance door to door. He went from a starter position to a district manager and then a regional manager, spending thirty-seven years with the same company.

Then he retired, but could not sit still. He bought his own independent company where he still works today, at seventy six years old.

He was a real sought after guy in high school. All the girls loved him. My mom was the one who captured his heart. They were married when she was sixteen and he was fresh out of high school.

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They lived in a mountain cabin when I was born, then a wooden duplex in the small town of Pine Mountain, then a brick duplex in LaGrange where he went on to build a house. He spent $13,000 to build that first beautiful brick home in an upscale neighborhood of LaGrange in 1968, but my mother never lived there with him. They were divorced when I was seven and we went to live in Atlanta.

After her death, we moved in with my dad and stepmother (s). That is plural for a reason. He was still a ladies’ man and never could stick with just one.

He took us water skiing and we had a cabin on the Chattahoochee River where we spent weekends. Those were real fun times with my siblings recalled; although, he fell into the water a few times unexpectedly, too drunk to stand. Seriously, it is kind of scary to look back on it.

I was a Daddy’s girl. I lived for him to come home every day. I was supposed to have been a boy named Steven. He taught me all about skiing, CB radios, hunting and fishing. He called me his “modern girl” and told me I would be a city slicker like him one day.

He was raised on a farm and was the black sheep of the family for several reasons. He was an atheist.  He left the farm and became a city boy. He drank. He divorced my mother. He had many wives. He was a businessman, not a farmer. He abused and neglected us, despite our fine lifestyle. Socioeconomic status does not alter reality.

He was a mean son-of-a-bitch when he drank. He abused our mother, leaving her battered and bruised. He broke things and trashed the home when he was angry and out of control. He whipped us with belts till we bled. Later, he ignored our pleas regarding our stepmothers’ behaviors. I began to loath him. We became estranged when I reached puberty. We left home, my sisters and I. My older sister got married and my younger sister and I went into foster care. When I had kids of my own, we reconciled. That reconciliation required courage from both of us.

After a few divorces, he married a very nice woman, a Christian woman, whom he is still married to nearly thirty years later. He stopped drinking. I love her dearly. They have no children together but they are very loving and kind to us children, his grandchildren, and great grandchildren. He is also now a Methodist preacher.

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He is still a smart ass. Three or four heart surgeries later. No drinking. No smoking. No philandering. But still with a smart-mouthed comeback for just about everything anyone says to him. Usually, he’s funny. He could have been a comedian.

He has five daughters. His only son died the day after it was born. He never gave me a bloody red penny for school, or helped me in any way raising my own family. But he did teach me many of life’s lessons in his own way. He also taught me not to judge others. You never know what torments another soul carries around with them. I have relearned to love him.

This Fathers Day, I want you to remember one thing:

Forgiveness is a powerful antidote for hate.

Happy Fathers Day!

People CAN change. Well, they can change some things. Once a smart ass, always a smart ass.

I have also learned you can’t help what you inherit.

25 thoughts on “Dear??? Old Dad

  1. Yeah, I’ve thought of posting something today but just don’t have it in me. My dad did the job the best way he knew how — at a time when dads didn’t have much to do with their kids. He was removed from the family in a lot of respects. And now I’m a dad and I tried to do the opposite of that and all I have to show for it is one teenager I can’t stand and another who is incredible but I see starting to make the same mistakes his brother did. So, it’s pretty hard to get excited about this day.

    • We try to do it better. I know I did with my own kids. Tried to give them the loving home I did not have. My oldest son and I have always had a good relationship. My daughter and I had a few years when I thought we would hate each other forever. I loved her, but could not understand how she could live like she was living. I still don’t understand a lot of her choices, but I have learned to accept that they are HER choices. AND I LOVE HER. She loves me too. Your sons will find their way. Never stop loving them. My youngest lives with his dad on the farm, and I may never understand him either, but I love him. You have done what a father can do. There will come a time when you will look back and know, and they will know, that you always loved them, unconditionally, no matter what. That’s what Dad’s do.

    • Thanks Charles. We can’t all be perfect all of the time, but we can forgive and accept forgiveness. I am certain I did a few things that upset him as well.

  2. What a story that spans the gamut! And I appreciate your raw honesty instead of icing over everything with a Pollyanna attitude that rings false. Brava!

  3. A story that rings true – and brava to you for telling it. My relationship with my dad was adversarial too at times, but I’m saving the details until my memoir. I will add to your quote another one on forgiveness: “Forgiveness does not excuse their behavior – forgiveness prevents their behavior from destroying your heart.” At this stage of my life, I concentrate on my father’s gifts to me: intellectual curiosity, love of music and nature, and deep faith.

    • Excellent Marian. I have found in all relationships that have passed me by for whatever reason, it is best to look back on the good stuff, carry it with me into the next relationship.

  4. Wonderful post, Susan. You did a great job with this one. It is a wonderful story of how people can change and forgive. It sounds like your dad was in his own teenage rebellion stage when he became a parent–your parents were both so young! Your dad certainly was cute–and is still handsome. Your post reminded me of something I just heard John Waters say in an NPR interview. He’s written a book about hitchhiking across America, and he said he was picked-up most often by middle aged white guys who talked about how wonderful their wives are. He said he thought they were mainly not their first wives, and that these men were former “bad boys” who had now finally settled down.

    • They say young girls are attracted to bad boys because without decent steady jobs they have all the time in the world to lavish them with attention…older guys are working hard, tired in the evenings and don’t.HA Thanks Merril! If I could not forgive, I would be as miserable as a couple of my sisters. Glad that I am not.

      • I’m so glad that my younger daughter has never been attracted to bad boys! (And my older daughter to bad girls.)

        I’m glad you’ve been able to forgive, too. Life is too short to spend it being miserable!

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