Daddy Issues

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Someone I love died yesterday.

He was my uncle.  Not blood, but a relative nonetheless.  And one of the best fathers I’ve ever known.

I don’t say that lightly.  I am incredibly critical of parents, especially male ones.  For good reason.

My biological father should have gone to prison for the things he did.

My adopted dad…  He’s no picnic.

The one man I adored, that I looked up to, that spent time with me and held me when I cried and took me on outings for no reason at all and paid attention to what I said and gave me unconditional love – my grandfather – was taken from me when I needed him most.  He died young, and a part of me – also young – died with him.

I learned early in life not to trust men.  My grandfather was the (first and best) exception to the rule, and I have spent the rest of my life – albeit unconsciously – seeking the kind of pure love he demonstrated.

I don’t know that I’ve ever found it for myself.

I don’t know if I ever will.

What I do know is that one of the only men in my life who ever demonstrated that kind of love consistently to others (myself included, although peripherally) – to his children, his neighbors, his extended family (of which I am a part), the members of his church congregation – was my uncle.

And yesterday, at the age of 97, he died.

I don’t know if any of the following will make sense.  There are mental and emotional connect-the-dots that may be difficult for anyone who doesn’t know my history (i.e., anyone besides Me) to draw the lines between.  And I am not in a proper frame of mind to explain.  Keep that in mind if you chose to read on.

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My uncle was a God-fearing man.

Normally I would say that with a twist in my stomach and a hard glint in my eye. After all, my father, too, was a “God-fearing” man.  {I have a long a sordid history with The Church (which is all I’m ever likely to say on the matter) and the label is one that unsettles me.}

But for my uncle…  He was, indeed, a God-fearing man.  And I can say that with a settled heart and a patient smile.

He was a rare breed.

He had a gentle voice and a genuine smile, leathered skin and a steel spine.  He was a serious man who could find the humor in any situation and even though he said things (things he genuinely believed, things he held as truths, things that – had they come from anyone else – would have my both my fists and my hackles up) at times that seemed at odds with reality, he did not say them at odd times.  He chose his moments, and there were many moments of silence between us over the years that I appreciated more than words can express.  And when he *did* share, that’s exactly what it was:  SHARING.

Not preaching.  Not prostelatizing.  Not talking, at or to.

Sharing.

He would quote Bible verses (…in your patience rest ye your souls…) and nod and smile in his old wise way (he was always old to me; he was 58 when I was born) and go on about his life, not sticking his nose into anyone else’s.  When he saw something, he said something.  But always in a positive way.  Always with love.  Never with condemnation.

In the sea of fire and brimstone that threatened to drown my family in eternal flames, his voice was the soothing cool water of reason upon which we could rise up and walk.  He was a light in the darkness.  He knew what Love was, and he lived it.

If he did not have something nice to say he did not say anything at all.  And he expected that consideration of others.  He would not brook gossip and his compassionate chastisement stopped many a vicious tongue from wagging.

There’s many a vicious tongue to be found in church.

(He was a church-going man.)

It is a lesson I learned young, and learned well.

But there are exceptions to every rule.

(And was exceptional.)

Processing this loss (so unexpected despite his age; he was, of course, supposed to live forever) has resurrected feelings I thought long dead and buried.  About the experiences I had as a child, the expectations I have as an adult.  The bonds severed, the filaments carefully woven.  The pain and the pain-staking labor.  The intensity of it all.  Those feelings have swirled and crashed, one foaming wave into another, until I can feel the storm of anger (yes I’m angry; I’m human, I’m grieving, and I have Daddy Issues that have caught me unawares and it’s disconcerting, to say the least) swelling in me with the strength of a tsunami. It has salted past wounds and twisted long-buried knives, and the Ghosts of Men Past… and Men Present… are haunting me tonight.  The betrayals, large and small, old and new.  The bones, once broken, that still ache when the weather changes.  The heart, too strong and too stubborn to break, that keeps trying and keeps trusting and keeps searching – no matter the odds – that still aches, that always aches, because the ‘whether’ changes.

Whether this can work…

Whether I should believe…

Whether or not to wade in…

Whether to try…

Whether to trust…

And I realize… I trusted him.  And he was worthy of it.  He never broke my trust.

My uncle was a man who could be depended on.  One who, once he gave his word, kept it.  Who loved without judgment, who lived without fear.   Who gave – constantly and consistently – unselfishly of himself, to his children (with whom I am incredibly unhappy; it is very hard for me not to see their current actions – or rather, their inactions – as anything but selfish…but that is neither here nor there), his friends, his neighbors, and his community for 97 years.

He was a good man.

He was a good father.

And his goodness restored my faith – in ways I never realized until now – in both.

(Even as my doubts resurface.  In both.)

Sometimes you never know the impact someone has on your life until they are no longer in it.

And sometimes you don’t realize how deep your Daddy Issues are until one of the Good Ones is gone.

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This may not make sense to anybody but me.
But this is the song I am singing tonight.

PRIDE AND JOY

The time of day I can’t recall
The kind of thing that takes a toll
Over years of overtime
over smiles and over wine

All in all it wasn’t bad
All in all it wasn’t good
But I still care

That’s the problem with the days
They’re never long enough to say
What it is you never said
All the books you never read

Throw myself into the wind
Hoping somebody might pick me up and carry me again

Where are you now?
Do you let me down?
Do you make me grieve for you?

Do I make you proud?
Do you get me now?
Am I your pride and joy?

I believe this to be true
It’s nothing sacred, nothing new
No one tells you when it’s time
There are no warnings, only signs
Then you know that you’re alone
Not a child anymore
But you’re still scared

All your mountains turn to rocks
All your oceans turn to drops
They are nothing like you thought
You can’t be something you are not
Life is not a looking glass
Don’t get tangled in your past
Like I am learning not to

Where are you now?
Do you let me down?
Do you make me grieve for you?

Do I make you proud?
Do you get me now?
Am I your pride and joy?

0 thoughts on “Daddy Issues

  1. pivoine68

    I am so sorry for your loss yet I am so happy that you were lucky enough to have this person in your life.

    I always find it strange how the most probable things in life, birth and death, always come as such a shock to us. Not just us I mean, to everyone.

    I am hugging you from afar,
    Dawn

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      Yes, birth and death… For all that they are natural and cyclical, they are also Major Events, which makes them impactful. I am, I think – in my own strange and meandering way – reeling, dazed and confused, from the impact.

      It is a bit like a domino effect, and while my remembrances of him are positive, the memories also spark not-so-positive recollections of bygone days. It’s like tossing a coin in the air, flip sides of the same silver having equal gravity on the downward spin.

      It’s odd, what hits you. How. And when.

      I saw him weekly, as a child. For years. But now… I haven’t seen him in years. It saddens me that I won’t ever see him again.

      But my heart is not heavy with the knowledge that I won’t. As you said, I am lucky to have had him in my life.

      Bisous, you. <3

  2. wildoats1962

    One of those pivotal moments in life is when you realize you know more dead people than living people. I had an unusual dream last night. I went to a small isolated cemetery. Small as in maybe two dozen headstones, They were my ancestors. I walked along asking various questions about them and listened to the stories my dad and aunts and uncles and cousins told. It was a great time. Fun amusing stories were told, and afterward I was tasked with locking the gate. Nothing seemed abnormal about any of that. It wasn’t until I was awake and thinking about the dream that I realized that *I* was the ONLY living person in that dream.

    I was caught a bit off guard at work tonight also. I was glancing through the obits and I saw a girl that I knew. She was 48 and died of cancer. I had asked her sister out about 20 years ago. They moved away not to long after. I hadn’t thought about either of them in a long time, but it came right back.
    Living or dead people remain a part of your life.

  3. secretthots

    Oh, dear. Sincere condolences.
    It all makes sense in the mysterious way that Grief is a complicated process… I am glad you can do it and can remember him fondly. Grateful you could experience trust and goodness through him. I hope you can be safe and cherished in this hard time.

    Lola xo

  4. Jamie Ray

    He sounds like a solid, honest, loving man – someone who was at peace with himself (and God if you are into that). They are few are far between and it makes a huge difference to have had one in your life.

  5. Jayne

    How incredibly blessed you are to have such a treasure of a man during tough times. He sounds like he was a strong foundation of good for you, one that changed how you viewed life in the best way possible. Men like that are such powerful sentinels in my mind – protectors. I’m sorry for your loss my friend…but from what you so beautifully shared here, he can’t be a loss. I’m hugging you. xoxo, J

    1. Mrs Fever Post author

      It’s interesting to me that, although he was not a mainstay (he was always on the outer periphery of my life, never really IN it), he was such a strong influence nonetheless.

      And I can see now, looking back, how he influenced the people around him in positive ways, and how some of *those* people influenced me.

      Like ripples from a stone skipped on water. Such is the way we affect one another’s lives.

      1. Jayne

        Yes,. Then, doesn’t that make you reflect on your own actions and what affects you have had or have. It makes me conscious of the choices I will make or haven’t made – good and bad. Reading about him also made me remember people that I had around me and what quiet but very positive places they held. I’m happy to remember them. Thank you for that.

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