My father only ever yelled at me once in my life; it occurred on the day before he died. I was eleven then, and a good kid who never got into trouble. My father was very angry—over some offensive words that were chalked onto the sidewalk—and did not believe me when I told him that it was not me who did it. He told me that I needed to be more responsible. Those were his last words to me. I don’t remember what I said to him, only that it wasn’t “I love you.” The next morning he killed himself.
My father was a heavy drinker; it was a rare sight to see him sober. By my second birthday it had gotten so bad that my mother gave him an ultimatum: quit drinking or leave! He chose his addiction over his family.
I am now a father to a very intelligent two-year-old boy. I learned many things from my parents growing up, but nothing as important as what I learned from my father’s death—the most tragic event of my life. Learning from his mistakes helps me to be a better parent. I will always take care of myself, so that I can always take care of my children. I hope never to leave my son feeling as if I didn’t do my job as a father. He brings so much joy into my life, and not a day goes by when I regret ever having him. No matter how hard life gets, I know that my son will cheer me up and give me hope. I’ll turn to my children instead of alcohol.
In their children’s eyes, parents are role models and they should always remember that it was their doing that brought them into the world. Subsequently, it is their responsibility to look after them. I loved my father, but I realize now that I never respected him. How could I? He abandoned me—twice. I believe that children learn from the mistakes of their parents. The irony in my father’s advice about being responsible is that he wasn’t very responsible in the decisions he made in his life. I can see that I am responsible where my father was not. I believe that parents need to be there for their children, even if they cannot be there for themselves.
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