I believe in forgiveness. I have not lived a very tragic life and I don’t have more to be angry about than most people do. I’m sure that I have less. I’ve never had to go without the things that I need and I’ve been loved and protected. But, like a lot of people, I grew up without a Father.
My Father was an alcoholic, and blessedly my Mother divorced him before I was two years old. Between the ages of two and seven, my Father was an inconstant presence in my life, always dropping plans that he’d made with we in favor of his addiction. But whatever else he was not to me, my Father was fun. My Father took me out for fast food, bought me toys and taught me to love John Wayne movies and illegal fire works and all things needless and silly and great. Then, around my seventh year he dropped out of my life almost all together.
I spoke to my father once more after he lost touch with me, when I was nine. I was still very young, but old enough to tell that he wasn’t sober when we spoke. This scared me and my Mother did her best to soothe me, but we finally had a talk about his addiction.
Then, when I was 19 and a freshman in college, my Father died. He died right after September 11th, when death was all around and the timing of his death felt almost natural. Considering his lifestyle, I knew that my Father would die young. Almost nothing about my Father’s death surprised me, accept my anger.
I had always assumed that I would get a final chance to speak to my Father before he died, to let him know what I thought of him. I wanted to tell him that I worshiped him, that I loved him and that the way that he had treated me was disgraceful.
I was eventually able to forgive my Father. Now I know how sad he must have been before he died, and how ashamed he must have felt to keep me out of his life for so long. How sad that he died before freeing himself from his addiction, and how much he’ll miss.
There are so many apologies that are owed to people as they go through life, most of which they’ll never hear. I know that I’ll never hear my father ask for forgiveness, but I’ll offer it anyway, because forgiving my father felt as freeing as being with him again, like toys and fast food and John Wayne and illegal fireworks.
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