February 6 will likely be just another day in your life. You will get up as you usually do, go about your normal activities, and retire after a long day like always. It’ll be the same this time as it was 12 years ago. But February 6, 2001, marked the passing of a lowly man from this earth: my father.
His death came with no recognition, glory, or even posthumous praise. People didn’t stop and wonder. In fact, his life was devoid of any fanfare, and the end of his life certainly didn’t receive any special attention. Outside his small corner of the world, life continued for most like it always does.
His passing wasn’t met with parades snaking through town. His life was a brief mention in the local newspaper. No camera crews. No reporters. If he had made headlines that day, I’m sure the title would’ve read something more like “Mental, Physical Anguish Put Bitter End to Life of Suffering.” When he passed, he had nothing and left his children with nothing, unless you count debt as “something” then he left us with a lot.
Neither rich nor famous, humanitarian nor philanthropist, my father was just a number, a tiny speck in this vast universe — or at least that’s how he often viewed his life, forsaken and forgotten. Dad, I know you were up against the world, trying to overcome adversity. There are days I blame you for being selfish, and there are days I understand the internal struggle with which you dealt.
You were more than what you amounted to, and it’s a shame you didn’t see it within yourself. You were blessed with potential and born with a purpose. You brought two children into this world, two children who understand the difference between right and wrong. Two children who have lived beautiful lives, albeit filled with problems of their own. Two children who will now tell your story in a much different light, having had the chance to reflect on, process, and apply everything you meant to us. Two children who believe that, despite all your shortcomings and misgivings, you left the world a better place, for your lessons and legacy will forever shape their lives and the lives of those they love.
Please know that we miss you, but our lives are better now. You were quite a handful; I think you would say so yourself. But what I wouldn’t give to hear one of your sarcastic lines or bad jokes again. I wish I could catch one more pass in the backyard. I would welcome the chance to catch a final football game on TV (no beer, of course). You’ve already missed and will continue to miss so many milestones, like graduations, your daughter’s wedding, and the joy in your granddaughters’ eyes. And how unfair it is that I never got to really tell you how I felt.
This past weekend, I got a chance to go out with my sister. Late in the evening, we took a trip down memory lane, even browsing through the single box that contains your life. While looking through photos and letters we hadn’t seen in 12 years, we laughed, held back tears, and recalled some of your memories. Among the few artifacts was a letter you had addressed to alcohol (from the solitary confines of your apartment, writing was your hobby and therapy).
A beautiful account of a struggling alcoholic’s relationship with his poison, it was never published … until today.
For far too many years to remember, yet too few to forget, you have always held a special place in my heart. I will always remember the lonely nights when I could not find a friend, I found you. Or the times when I could not count on anyone, I could count on you. Also the times when nothing would seem to ease the pain, nothing that is, except you.
Oh, and I haven’t forgotten the “good times.” The good times watching Packers games on television on Sunday afternoons. The good times when we went out to eat, just to enjoy one another’s company. Or the good times on the beach, taking in the sunset. Remember all those Christmas parties and all the food and presents … and the good times?
You know lately, though, things just haven’t been the same. I have never thought too much of the idea that all good things end some day. I never thought much about that idea at all, that is until now.
This hurts me to say, probably more than it hurts you to hear: I can’t handle you anymore. For a long time, and I mean over the course of years, you have been causing more pain in my life than you have relieved. And you have caused more trouble in my life than you could possibly imagine.
Did I mention my health problems and how they have escalated? You almost killed me. You not only hurt me, but you also hurt the people around me whom I love very much. Shit, you even had a hand in my divorce.
If I sound angry, I am. After all, you turned on me; I didn’t turn on you … until now. Despite everything, I’ll still miss you. I will still see you around; however, I can’t spend any time with you. Please don’t come around to my apartment; you are not welcome anymore. Trust me, this is the best for both of us. Besides, you still have lots of people left in your life, but I only have a few left in mine. But those few left in my life mean more to me right now than you ever have.
Thanks for listening,