Thinking About Dad 11/13/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

For some reason, dad has been heavy on my mind today.  For those who may not remember, I lost my dad a couple of years ago.  Our relationship was not good, but despite being racist and emotionally abusive, he at least had enough honor to keep me in his will despite our strained relationship.  It’s because of that will that I now have a house, two vehicles, and so much more.  The money is running low so I do need a job, but it was a great start.

I become emotional when I think of my dad (and my mom, although she passed long before he did).  My good friends know that I never had the chance to say goodbye to him, and no doubt many will think this is the reason.  Because of that, I didn’t have the chance to patch things up with him, and I will never have a final memory with him.  But our relationship was so estranged that this, honestly, doesn’t bother me.  I did make my efforts.  I tracked down the hospice facility where he spent his final days, and I did call and left a message opening the door for him to reach out to me if he wanted to, but I didn’t want to push it.  He was a proud man, so I wasn’t sure that he would even want to talk with me in his final hours from hospice.  As such, all I felt comfortable doing was opening the door, and I’m happy that he knows that I did at least make the effort. 

But it’s not my relationship with my father that makes me melancholy, but rather, the lack of relationship.  I was watching a movie that was about the relationship between a man and his father that really brought this to mind.  It didn’t make me miss him, because I don’t have many happy memories with him (although there are a few especially when I was very young).  When I watch movies of fathers with their sons (even grown sons), it really just reminds me of what I never really did have with my father. 

I was never athletic, but I can remember one time that dad played catch with me.  The problem is that it was only one time.  I think dad was disappointed in me that I wasn’t more athletic, and yet, he never really tried to teach me or help me to improve.  The truth is that I don’t like sports, but I understand it.  I have a friend with a father who takes his children to hockey games even now that they are all grown and married.  He taught his love of hockey to his family, and because of that, it is a common bond they will have forever.  No matter what else, they have that.  He takes them to games, and they have chosen their favorite teams.  I never had that with my dad.  He would watch football (at least more than baseball), and his usual “watching position” was laying on the floor with a pillow under his head in front of the television.  I honestly don’t know if he really cared for any given team because he never became animated.  He would sit and watch in silence.  I could sit and watch with him if I wanted to but there really was no point.  He wouldn’t stand for conversation or answering questions.  All I could do is sit in silence and not bother him.

Without a relationship with my father, I was the odd man out in our family, which made it difficult for me to fit in with any family events or gatherings, something I still feel today.  As a boy, I felt more comfortable hanging out in the kitchen with my mom and her female friends, but that wasn’t right either.  Dad and his friends would ignore me as they drank beer and discussed sports and work, topics I certainly couldn’t contribute, and mom and her friends discussed things that I didn’t really care about either.  At least they seemed more willing to have me in the same room with them, but I never really fit.  As such, I never learned social etiquette, how to join in conversations (especially in they’re already in progress), or how to socialize. 

If I had children, especially a son, I would have wanted to include him.  I might get a little bit preachy here, but to the fathers out there, please spend time with them.  Find something to have a passion with and find ways to include them.  In the end your lives will both be richer for it.

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