Monthly Archives: May 2012

Lessons From My Dad’s Family

This one wraps up a few posts on thoughts for father’s day. I know it’s early but I’m usually always late with father’s day greetings… In the first post I talked about a little history that drives the importance of these lessons. In the second, I talked about lessons I’ve learned from talking to my dad and from what little memories I had of him from my childhood. I’ll finish with lessons on family from his relatives…

So not only was my dad out of those years but, naturally, his brothers and sisters were out (this was not their fault.. I’m not getting into blame in these posts other than to talk about the child abuse witch hunt in MA at the time.. But they missed us just as much as we missed them). I missed some really important observations and lessons that I get to see now anytime I visit them or talk to them. Things that I bet would have been instilled in me. I think a certain closeness in my immediate family has been missing and I think not seeing this modeled is a big part of it.

Family Matters

My dad’s family… The Walshes… I can’t even begin to describe them. Strange. Quirky. Hardly serious (unless it is called for). In love. There for each other (usually). Together. They just do things together. They call each other – a lot. They visit each other – a lot. They hug and kiss – everytime they see each other. They are close knit and they get along really well. Sure they have their moments and their personality clashes (you can only get along with a Walsh for so long… We can be¬†are loud and annoying and we all seem to suffer from some of the same flaws.. get everyone together and it can come out ūüėČ )

Whenever we go to a family event it is really a family event. You can just see the love and enjoyment everyone has being together. There are jokes, long long running jokes, inside jokes, gags, random presents, a desire to serve and help each other out for the most part. They’ll sometimes call each other to compare notes while watching a Red Sox or Patriots game. They still do stuff together as adults.

Wrigley’s Gum, Orange Sprinkle Cheese & Spagetti Sauce

One of the things I remember most about my childhood? Sleeping over Aunt Sue’s house. There were rituals about it… We could count on her to have gum. We could count on her to make whatever we wanted to eat – but it almost always consisted of a noodle dish – normally her great spagetti sauce with sausage and orange “parmasean” cheese sprinkled on top. There was always a chocolate cake smothered in frosting for some occasion or another.. Her kids, my cousins, were older but always fun to visit. Her husband – Uncle Brian – was a great role model for me. He was (and is) an engineer’s engineer. Even had the engineer’s beard. Always with the latest computer even before they were around everywhere. Always with some sort of electronics gadget to play with from his day job or hobbies. I spent as much time playing on his computer as I did playing the organ (with my headphones on.. I think I was required to wear those) over at PAPA’s house. ¬†I never met my grandmother, she died before I would have had the chance but Aunt Sue seems to have become the matriarch of the family. I think you could say she’s the glue that holds the family together. She isn’t happy unless she’s giving her house, her time and her stuff to you. She isn’t happy if everyone isn’t chatting. (She also isn’t happy if the house is any warmer than 58 degrees… That’s why Uncle Brian just about always has a hoodie on – even in August…)

Being There For Each Other

Dad’s brothers and sisters really banded around him. They protected him and cared for him. They advocated for him. Even to this day when he’s in a funk or having a tough time medically or emotionally they rally around him. I have to be reminded to call family, they just do it automatically.

Even Until the End.

I was there when my grandfather – PAPA – died. I was in his nursing home – as were a lot of the family. Even more would have been there but things progressed faster than expected. They were all just there for him. They knew what to do, and they stayed by him, encouraging him as he very peacefully went, with a smile on his face and a tear on his cheek. In so many ways that is a memory I’ll always be moved by. By the tenderness of the family, by the comfort, peace and strength everyone exuded and by the dignified, proud and peaceful way he passed.

You can’t be at a family gathering without at least one of the uncle’s or dad doing a papa impersonation. His antics, his mannerisms and expressions. It’s great. It isn’t irreverent, it’s flattering and it memorializes a great man who valued family. A man who had his own ups and downs but was there and in love with his family. He came to my wedding, I’m so happy that I can look back and remember him there in his wheelchair watching his grandson get married. After I started getting to know them again – and before papa died – he would always be at every family party. He hated that he couldn’t get the right words out and it would frustrate him until he just gave his “NEVERMIND!!!” wave with his arm. But even though he couldn’t communicate – you could see the joy he had seeing his family together and laughing. Even if it was at him. You couldn’t visit papa without getting a hug and a kiss.. Didn’t matter if you were a man, a woman, 5 or 50…

They are always there for each other when something bad strikes them or one of their in-law extended families. That’s just the way they are.

Speaking of Papa..

I have a TON of happy childhood¬†memories of Papa and his house, too. Those memories are just as significant ¬†as the ones of my father or hanging out with Aunt Sue. I remember his typewriters downstairs. I remember that organ he had that we would play. I even seem to remember a big circle rug in a porch that the dog (Turk, I think?) would always be on. He was happy. Always happy. He was just as much a jokester as the rest of them and he just loved being around the family. ¬†A good reminder for grandparents… You’re as important as parents in the growth of the children in your family. Be there for them.

Outside is where the fun is 

I can’t help but mention that anytime we go to a family gathering there are four constants… Chicken cutlets… A sports game on in the TV room.. Dad being sarcastic and a clown… And most of the fun happening outside. They still do family kickball games. They still play ball outside. They know how to play outside – young and old. You don’t see that all the time these days…

It’s almost like they have a lot of the good family life aspects from the 50s ingrained into their genes and modeled generation after generation.

That’s it…

I said just three posts. I’ve learned and continue to learn a lot from my dad and his family. I look forward to the lessons I have yet to learn and I hope to pass these on to my kids. I can tell you, though, this father’s day the lessons about being a good dad are going to be most heavy on my mind. Thanks Dad. We had a great beginning, a horrible middle and we’re enjoying the ending. Let’s hope it’s a long one and I’m happy it is all behind us. I love you and trust you with my own kids.

No… That’s not it.

I was all done but wanted to add this.. This really did come to my mind after writing the above. The whole point of these posts isn’t to trick you into reading my thoughts on my faith, but I think it fits. I think it’s important.

I have things to share with the rest of the Walshes too,¬†I think. I think sometimes there is a bit more anger left stuck inside folks than there should be about the circumstances I described in the first post. That is understandable but keeping that bottled inside doesn’t do anything. It deadens ¬†your nerves, it lessens your ability to get close to people and it prevents life to happen as it should. Forgiveness is the key. I don’t think I fully realized that until I became a Christian like my Aunt Trish – coincidentally we found that path about the same time unaware that either was heading towards it. When we don’t forgive it tends to be because we are stuck looking at life from our own lens. We are stuck thinking of “me”. I think I got some of the desire to hold on to anger from the Walsh side. We think that by not forgiving and holding onto our anger we are sending “justice” to the other party.. What we forget, though, is that anger only hurts us in the long run. It poisons our systems. That’s true when it comes to forgiving others, it’s true when it comes to allowing yourself to be forgiven. This was a crappy situation and there were a few factors at play but we’re here now and none of us should hold onto any bitterness about our situation any more. It’s done.

I know most of my family doesn’t believe as I do. I know most have scars and wounds from their own faith upbringing.. I gotta tell you though –that isn’t God that messed things up…¬†¬†That wasn’t Christ…¬†Sometimes some churches can be really bad places to find true Christians living like Christ – loving you¬†where you are..¬†¬†Loving you for¬†who you were created to be. ¬†That’s what Christianity is… It’s a God who loved us so much to send His son to die for us.¬†The closest thing I can equate to how that might have felt right now would be Dad giving up the fight to see us because he knew it was in our best interest. Now what Christ and God felt was so much worse but I think that is heading in that right direction. Jesus agreed to pay the price of our sin – separation from His father while on that cross – if it meant he could redeem us eventually. He bore that full weight of my sin, of your sin. Whatever that feeling of separation was – he got it.

I am so happy to have each of you in my life now and I really hope that we can have that relationship forever. There’s no magic formula, there’s no dollar value. Just an agreement that we aren’t perfect, and an agreement that Christ paid the way for us into Heaven and a belief in Him as the one who has the power to open that door to Heaven for us. Someday we’re each going to die, between now and then we have a decision to make about where we’ll be after that. On one side is an eternal closeness that probably feels a lot like a Walsh party – except on streets of Gold. On the other side is emptiness and loneliness, regret and memory of the times we could have accepted this gift… forever… Probably not that unlike those times Dad or I were having sleepless, lonely nights in different places for different reasons. I’ve chosen God.

Lessons From my Father

I have to apologize about the partially borrowed title… Thankfully my father’s politics haven’t rubbed off on me… He’ll enjoy the title of this post and get the joke if he can figure out how to use his computer… I’m not going to describe eating any weird foods or anything in this post…

You were probably one of the 2 people who read the first post about my childhood and why these lessons maybe mean a bit more to me and why they ring in my head lately as I see me easily able to turn into a true workaholic and even see me not spending the time I could be with my own kids. Our situation isn’t dire. I spend time with them and I’m not separated but the lessons remind me that time is short and I need to get on this now. My oldest is around the age I was when I last really saw my dad as a kid in a healthy father-child relationship. That’s sobering.

Anyway, on to the lessons…

Dads Make a Difference

I can easily¬†sit here and tell you my life would have been different with my father in it. Not just because the negatives I described in the first post would be missing – but because I’m confident he would have actively made a difference in my life. From the simple things like discipline in finishing school, the importance of integrity, to self confidence and enjoying life’s bumps – I missed out on not having him and his personality in my life. Us dads play a role in shaping our children. If we are absent by choice or by circumstances – there will be a difference in our kids.

Time with Dads Make a Difference

I have memories of my dad even from back then. All small things but all memories that tell me he had an impact on my life. All memories that tell me even just the little things made me feel special. Fishing. Going on a family camping trip in the woods (details are sketchy but I remember tents and having fun). Waking up early to play blocks or catch a glimpse of dad on his way to the train station. Playing in the new pool with him.

Insignificant Moments Aren’t Always Insignificant…

“Helping” him with yard work and enjoying that sip of Pepsi (in his absence I realized Pepsi is horrible and am a proud Coke drinker now…) after working hard outside – always and still tastes better.. I think he had a beer while I had my pepsi but to this day – and I’ve never told anyone this – every.single.time¬†I have a sip of coke after working outside it reminds me of dad. It always did, it always does and probably always will. Growing up and as an adult I’d instantly¬†have my mind back on our house and him when I have a sip of coke after working outside on a hot day. Came to mind yesterday after stacking wood for awhile, in fact. It’s a good¬†great feeling. I remember being happy, at peace, laughing, feeling unburdened and just having fun and knowing my daddy loved me. It was a moment. Looking back – it was something stupid. Something silly. I’m sure to my dad it was just something to do after yard work. For some reason it stuck for me and was a memory that I’ve cherished. So… As dads, we don’t need to focus on big events, on looking for significance or trying to force meaning… We just have to be there and enjoy each day… The kids? They’ll drive significance from extremely ordinary events – if we share them with ’em.

Divorce Does Affect Kids

I remember standing at the top of the stairs screaming and crying with my sibligns at 5 or 6 as he was packing his bags and leaving. I remember how great it was on the weekends he would come over as they were separated, but before allegations came out.. I remember us kids running after his car laughing when he’d leave, but so torn and sad on the inside. I remember being confused and having no way to express that confusion. All I knew is that dad wasn’t here always anymore and it felt weird.

Time is a Precious Gift

Dad had 6 or 7 good years with me.. The first 2 were spent with me as a strong willed brat then a strong willed motor-mouth (I know what you all are thinking…) He enjoyed himself, I don’t remember a single bad memory of my time with him from the few I have of those days. I remember him being patient and laughing… He had only 4 or 5 good years with my brother and not even that many with my sister. As a busy dad who sometimes gets stuck in that “I’m providing, that’s important, once we get ahead there will be time” trap this lesson stings the hardest… It’s a Biblical lesson, too… Our days are numbered – make the most of them. It is so easy to get caught up in this project or that thing – but for 12 more years I have a daughter that lives at home.. For 14 and 16 more years I have sons that live at home. I see the pain my dad is still stuck with. I see the pain that was in my life for so long and even still there in pockets because I didn’t have him. I couldn’t know him as a kid and have to get to know him as an adult…

This lesson is probably most important… The time you have today – the time I have today – could be the last day. TODAY is the most important day and your kids – my kids – are going to remember what we did with them on this day.. They are going to remember what we didn’t do with them on it, too. Lately if I were to watch a video playback from their eyes, I think I’d see a lot of the cats in the cradle song playing back at me. I think I’d see an ambitious dad who thinks he is doing right to serve his family financially by trying to be the best he can be in his career field when…

Kids Don’t Want Perfection – They Want Dad.

My dad at the time was a disability processing clerk for the state, I believe. He’s a supervisor now and he’s risen up the ranks but he didn’t live, eat and breathe work – He wasn’t his job. He wasn’t his career. He was Dad who had a job but then was Dad at nights and on weekends. That’s what our kids want. US… Being awarded twice as a Microsoft MVP is a cool honor, but having my daughter draw me something just because she loves me should be what electrifies me – it does, but sometimes I get so busy I miss enjoying that moment. Hearing my middle boy talk about his love of “sea creatures” beats talking at a conference and being on the receiving end of the youngest’s remorseful kisses and hugs after a frustrating moment beats any compliments on a session evaluation. I don’t know what my dad would be willing to give up to get those moments back, but I bet it’s a lot. So those of us dads who have those moments in front of us and ahead of are the lucky ones. We need to enjoy them, even on a day we may not feel like enjoying it.. Even when a customer’s world is falling apart.

My dad would literally have friends of his get pictures and updates of us for him. He even told me he sat in our woods a couple times just to watch us play… Sounds creepy? Not really, he lived for those moments and risked a lot to just witness them. Those of us who still have access to our young kids? We risk missing the blessing we have right in front of us… One of my dad’s biggest pet peeves is deadbeat dads.. Dads who have the ability and legal right to enjoy their kids but choose not to. He has hindsight. He knows they are going to hate what they missed out on and it frustrates him. I don’t want to be beaten up by hindsight on the things I could have done better with my kids someday, neither do you.

Dads Make Sacrifices for their Kids

In his case he agreed to bottle up his desire to see us as I mentioned yesterday. He gave up on his desire to enjoy us because he didn’t want to hurt us. Just hearing my dad talk about fatherhood, I can tell that was something he was looking forward to his whole life.. Looking back at his family, I don’t blame him. Family is everything to them.¬†His sacrifice is one I understand but one I can’t begin to imagine having to make. He allowed himself to be crushed and have his heart torn out just so we wouldn’t be crushed or wounded further by a screwed up judicial and family court system.

¬†If you can’t laugh at yourself, you shouldn’t laugh at all..

I’ve somehow managed to inherit my dad’s literal sense of humor. His sarcasm. His sense of being a practical jokester… Even though he wasn’t in my life as a kid I’m stuck with his genes – even balding the same way. He loves making people laugh. I mentioned in the last post he has one arm… Every winter he holds a “Left handed glove drive” at his office. Everyone who had unmatched gloves left over are encouraged to bring him their left gloves.. Sometimes he’ll have a coat on, with his left sleeve limp and quickly shove it into a closing elevator door, scream out in pain and eventually let folks in on the joke… I don’t know if I’ve gone a visit with him without a series of jokes and at least one practical joke on his younger sister (Trisha was and is tortured by her brothers, but they do it in teasing love) or his niece. We share some pretty off color jokes. Not dirty jokes, just inside jokes about our situation. Things that probably sound off to those who don’t know us but we can take 15 years of crap and get miles of laughter from them.

¬†My Dad had Dreams –

I’ve talked to my dad about his perspective over the past couple years in particular. Some of the things he’s revealed to me through those conversations and some of the little things I’ve heard him say have me realizing I really have a special dad and I would have felt loved, wanted and cared for my entire childhood with him in it. I have so many more lessons that involve my siblings lives but I’m not going to go there. I do want to share a few of the things I’ve noted from talks with dad, though. These are about the dreams he had and the things that struck me…

He can’t watch weddings (real or on TV) without having to stop watching at one part.. He can’t stand to watch someone walk their daughter down the aisle because he knew he’d likely never get to.

He dreamed of being a destination house for us and all our friends.. He used to imagine weekends of us and all our friends hanging out using our pool, with him cooking hotdogs and hamburgers for everyone – watching us have fun, giving us a hard time, undoubtedly.

He imagined being at our graduations, being there for the birth of our kids, etc.

Basically all the things that we can take for granted became hopeful dreams in the absence of us. He talks of living a lot of those dreams through my own kids – his grandkids – I just hope his health maintains, he’s able to retire soon enough and he’s able to allow himself to get close enough to them through the scales of pain he’s built around his heart.

I could keep going. I won’t. The biggest lesson of all – the theme here, I guess – is to¬†just appreciate what you have… You may not have it forever.

A Father’s Day Series

I honestly couldn’t think of a title here… I’m starting a series of 3 posts on father’s day and what better way to start than with some catharsis. It’s long, sorry, It was a quick write.

An Introduction

We are a few weeks away from father’s day here in the US and I want to share some thoughts on being a father that I’ve learned from my own father and his family. Before I do that… I want to take you on a high altitude cruise over my childhood. I think it’s important to try and highlight that these lessons are even more special, since I didn’t have access to them for 15 years of my life, basically… So that’s what this first of three posts is about. The next two are about my dad and his family and the lessons I’ve learned and still need to work on applying. Before I go farther.. I want to say to you that I’m not trying to lay blame in this post. I’m not trying to create strife in either side of my family, I’m not looking for or making excuses for anything in my life and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy or validation. I’m not talking in depth about siblings or other family members here, I haven’t consulted them and I’m sharing my thoughts of the past 26 years (still can’t believe it’s been that long since I’ve been 7)

Some Background

From the age of about 7 until the age of about 22, my dad wasn’t in my life. Well he wasn’t… But his name always was. An intense anger towards him was for a lot of that time. A fear of him was there. Sure I’d see him sometimes at court hearings, I’d talk about him to countless therapists for most of my life and he seemed to be a good excuse for all that was wrong in our house growing up.

You see, I grew up as an abused child. I was a victim – well no, my mom heard someone use the word survivor once and thought that more empowering – so I was a survivor of child abuse. My father – my one armed, skinny father – had abused me. In elaborate ways – like the “electric suitcase” I described once on the witness stand… A device that would get plugged into a wall outlet (110 volts) and somehow send electricity through two handcuffs – one affixed to each wrist – and yet leave no permanent heart injury, bruise or burn somehow. There were a few attempts at sexual abuse that went nowhere. There were beatings, threats with knives, clown costumes and repeated exposures to scary behavior….

Well… That’s what I said anyway. That’s what I said in therapy sessions, apparently. It’s what I said to judges, lawyers, juries and guardians ad litem. But you know what? None of it happened. Yes.. I remember he and my mom fought a lot. I remember he lost his temper a couple times and would run at my mom and then stop, to scare her… To be a jerk, I guess. But even those situations I can look at with a slightly different lens now. Not a condoning one, but one that understands there are two sides to every story and while that behavior is not acceptable – people can screw up in tough situations…. But me? No.. I’ll talk about all the good memories I have in the next post, in fact.

I am not going to get into how I think this happened or what may have caused it all to boil up. I have my theory and the important people involved understand that theory. Right around the time our ¬†case was getting going, a witch hunt was on in the MA court system. Child abuse was a big deal, prosecutions were up and there were likely other bad cases going through the system, some more famously documented and debated. That didn’t help things. I remember the excitement with which therapists would ask leading questions, “Show me how your dad would hit you?!” and the interest in the answers. I remember the attention from mom. I remember having a badge to wear.

So on prosecutions went until the prosecutors had to drop the charges because they knew they wouldn’t get anywhere. My father refused to take a plea bargain with an admission of guilt – even with no jail time. He refused to back down on his integrity and say he did something he didn’t. I’ve since heard stories from his close knit family of how they tried to convince him (along with his lawyer) to just do it and move on and say, “forget it”… He couldn’t. He wouldn’t. I now know¬†that is because he was and is¬†innocent. I can’t even begin to put myself in his shoes… Hearing those allegations from a child you loved so much. Knowing what the implications were on that relationship. I can tell you I have no clue what I would do in that situation. Tears well up just thinking of the potential… Eventually they offered him a deal that would have no admission of guilt and he’d just have to watch his step and also not force visitation rights for a period of time…

Well he quickly gave up on that end of it. He couldn’t not see his children. So he started fighting to see us shortly after the trials quieted. I can imagine the hope he must have felt… “They’re older. they probable remember now that it was all mistakes and nothing happened. I’m their dad and I love them.. They’re gonna want to see me.. They can’t keep me from them forever, I didn’t do anything… We’ll get through this and look back and laugh about it..”

Well that isn’t what happened. Instead the visitation proceedings started. By this time I was maybe 11 or 12.. I was tortured. Conflicted. On one hand I remember staying up in bed at night – not being a Christian or having an understanding of grace – literally thinking, “Oh man… We lied.. I lied… Dad is potentially going to jail (I didn’t understand the deal he agreed to) and it is my fault.. I don’t understand this but I screwed up his life.. I swore on a Bible at court.. I’m doomed to Hell – whatever that is…” So on one hand I really felt like something was wrong with our story… But somehow on the other hand I had this hatred for my dad. I had this hatred for a system that was trying to make me visit him. Again, I can’t go into how I could be tortured here without causing more hurt than worth but I understand now… I think I welled that fear of what I’d done to him, that hurt, that despair – I welled all of that into the anger and frustration I had. I let the fear and worry take over and more or less bottled up the thought that he was innocent way down inside.

And I FOUGHT. Looking back I’m proud of my fighting skills while utterly embarrassed and broken up about who I was fighting. About what I was fighting. I let myself believe that I was an abuse victim. I let myself believe this evil system was going to decide for me¬†if I should visit my “abuser” (how we often referred to him….) So I did what any normal 12 year old would do… I wrote a letter. I wish I still had a copy but it quoted the declaration of independence, it quoted the star spangled banner and it was full of passion. It was an angry letter but it must have been convincing. I ended up photocopying the heck out of it with the help of teachers and I mailed it to everyone.. Radio, TV, State legislators, federal legislators, courts, etc. Stories were written in papers, NPR interviewed me, statehouse reps called me and a TV station interviewed mom and me… the victims… A bill was introduced (and it was poorly written and never passed – thankfully looking in the rear view mirror of my own situation) that basically said anytime there was even an allegation of abuse – a child could decide in their own mind what was in their best interests, instead of the court. I was incensed that here I was, a “mature” 12 or 13 who thought he understood the world having decisions made in the “best interests of the child” by a court system that didn’t appear to care what he or his mother said…. Well when I fought….

He retreated… ¬†It wasn’t his fault. It wasn’t because he did anything to me. It was because he saw me fighting. He saw my venom. He has even since told me he secretly liked my letter when a copy made its way to him. He was even proud that TV news crews were trying to hunt him down at his place of work.

His retreat, though, wasn’t because he was mad or that he started getting threats and funny looks – like he was a child abuser who hurt his own kid (he did get those comments and those looks) … No… It was because he loved¬†us… Because he saw the fighting. He saw the hurt and he remembered the first court fights.. He knew that it wouldn’t end well for us. So… this father, whose only wish all these years was just to see and hold his kids gave up… Not in desperation.. I think it was in courage. he selflessly gave up on what he wanted to make it easier on us. Because he loved us.

For the next 8-9 years he got himself by with the hope that someday he’d get to at least know us. That someday he’d get to chat with us and tell us he loves us and maybe, just maybe, hear it back.

I can’t tell you what that would do to me. I can’t tell you what that would do to most people. Knowing my dad now, and not wanting to spill too many secrets, I’ll tell you one thing about him. It’s awfully tough for him to get really close to folks. I don’t blame him… For crying out loud, his own kids were ripped from him – and they were still alive and living just 30 miles away. I don’t know what that does to a man’s heart and I hope I never have to find out.

For those next 8-9 years my life wasn’t great either.. I was living a lie. I was becoming a fighter for children’s rights from ages 12 to 16 or 17. I was starting self help groups half heartedly for abused kids, with this whisper in the back of my head that it was all lies. I received a “for courage to tell” award at a public and swanky ceremony. Publicity increased, while I still had this subconscious unease about it all. I felt like a fraud, had convinced myself that I just repressed memories and was confused and kept going. It was probably easier to keep going then to come to terms with what the truth might possibly reveal about the past. Those sleepless nights went away, replaced by anger, behaviors that I wish I could take back, excuses, etc. As an adult I can vividly remember that feeling of lying in bed at night staring at a dark ceiling worried about what was going on – worried about the lies from the age of 8 to 11 or so, with no one safe to talk to about it… I remember being so confused, and internalizing all those feelings. I imagine him having even more nights like that than I did. So alone. Even in the midst of an awesome and loving family… So terrified and feeling like he was stuck in some weird dream or a Kafka novel – waiting for everyone to yell SURPRISE! and laugh about the joke…

The story doesn’t end there..¬†I’m so thankful it doesn’t. My girlfriend at the time (my wife now, btw) had to put up with a lot of annoying whine fests. She had to listen to me recount things and start to come to the realization that it was quite possible that nothing happened to me. I stole some strength from her and wrote a letter.. Forget what it said but it was a hi.. An I want you back in my life letter. I think I ended it with a deal… Paraphrased, “I have no clue what happened… If you did – I forgive you… If you didn’t, I hope you can forgive me.”

That letter, that borrowed strength, was the start of a new relationship. A lot of new relationships. My aunts, my uncles, my cousins, their kids, my father. My children’s “papa”, and my own papa. I’ve heard that he was a source of strength for my dad and he was just as broken about it as my dad was. I’m so glad he got to see that reunion and get to know me a bit again before he passed on.

So here I am… In my 30s… A father myself who has a long road to go to be a better father. I’ll save the next two posts for how this situation and my own father taught me a few lessons about being a dad.