Today is the 25th anniversary of my father’s death. I often think about him on this day. He died when I was 14, the same age as Rugrat is now.
I didn’t know him very well, my dad. He was a tough person to get to know, particularly for a teenager who wasn’t interested in seeing things from anyone else’s perspective but her own. My father had a lot of flaws. I guess we all do, really, but when I was growing up, his flaws were extremely apparent to me. At the time that he died I was in the middle of teenaged “I hate my dad” angst.
I’ve come to show him a lot more compassion and understanding since becoming an adult. I know that part of it is age and maturity, and seeing much of myself in him. It’s also a whole lot easier to forgive someone when they’re not around anymore. I’m not sure if he was any more flawed than most people, or it was just that his particular flaws caused me a lot of hurt.
My father’s death helped shaped my life to be what it is today. It feels like a cold-hearted thing to admit, but there’s a very big part of me that isn’t sad that he’s gone. If he were still with us, my life would look very different than it does today…in ways that, by comparison, wouldn’t be nearly as good. I’m happy with the direction of my life, that’s not something I would ever wish to change. So I need to be okay with all that has come to pass before now, that’s led me to this place.
Even though there is a lack of sadness there at him being gone from my life, there is still love. He is the parent that I am most like — outgoing, fun-loving, stubborn and sometimes complex. Learning to understand myself over the course of my adulthood has helped me to learn to understand him a bit better, too. I have happy memories, too — of his booming laugh, of silly moments together when he was able to let his guard down, of his quick-wittedness. Characteristics in myself that I love.
Nothing is simple, I guess. Least of all the relationship between a father and daughter.
Despite everything, I love you dad. You’re with me — always.