No, he was not the best father. But he was my father. I have just as many good memories of him as I have bad ones. The bad memories are probably stronger because the emotions are fresher and very powerful. But there were good times, too.
He became a father with no role model to follow as his father was not in the picture, ever except to impregnate his mother. As soon as he could work he became the provider for his mother. He was six years old at the time. By the time he was in his early teen years, he was sent over the border to Texas to earn American dollars to send to his mother, and by then there were siblings, too. Not only did he have to leave his family behind, he also had to leave his name behind, his very person. Instead, he used the legal documents of a dead cousin that had been near his age. So he became someone else, yet he remained the provider. When he married and started his own family, he still provided for his mother AND for his children. He worked long, hard hours to support us. We didn’t have everything we wanted but there was always enough food on the table, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs. And in the three months of the year when he did not work seven days a week, he was the loving and playful father that took us places and did things with us. Those were the good days. Those are the days to remember. Those are the days he was a young, loving, productive father.
Then came the bad days. Unable to work and provide for us, he turned to the prescription pain medicine and the booze. Basically, he became lost. He was no longer that loving father to any of us. He was no longer the husband that he had been. He was no longer the man he had been for most of his life. He felt it. It destroyed him. He became angry and violent and hatefull, and even hate filled.
That’s who a lot of people remember. And they are right to. I will not take that from them.
But there were other parts to him, before he was used up and spit out by the company that he worked for. And even after that, there were glimmers of the father that I remember from my childhood, the loving one.
So I understand the mixed feelings. I just don’t understand the ones that choose to forget the good parts. I don’t understand the stone throwing.
Just as in all people, and in all stories, there was good and bad.
Who will I remember? I think I will choose to remember the loving father. I won’t forget the hate filled one who became so empty, for there are lessons to be learned from that person, too. But for now, in these final days, I will remember the father who pushed us on the swings and taught us how to ride a bicycle, running alongside us and holding us up. I’ll remember how he taught me to dance as I stood on his feet letting him lead me around the room in his strong and loving arms. That was all a long time ago but for now, those are the memories that I will allow myself.