I've seen the harm an unavailable dad can cause in a woman's life. I watched my girlfriend call her dad this weekend and wish him a happy fathers day. Did he deservie it? Better not ask me! But he got a well-wish from a very beautiful and kind-hearted woman. For some reason that inspired me. Monkey see - Monkey do?
Now I mentioned that I don't have a relationship with my dad. He left when I was a year old - he lived his life with another family, I lived mine with a single mom. I was bitter about it for a long time. I would sometimes go to bars looking for him. I found him once and wanted to start a fight with him, but somehow the surprise on his face extinguished my anger and agression. We just talked. He faded from in touch to out-of-touch.
Then I got in touch with him and he stood me up on an important event, and I wrote him a blistering letter. He called back and bi-atched me out. I went visiting him later on, when he paid me to do a job I never did. I drank the money away and broke contact. Got him back, I did!
I finally made amends - sent him back the money and told him the door was open if he ever wanted to have a relationship with me - and I meant it. Three years later he called. Totally surprised me. He said he wanted me to visit him because he didn't know how much longer he'd be around. I asked him was he planning to go somewhere? We laughed, and I left it at that. That was about two years ago.
As I watched my girl this weekend, and I recalled all the horrible things she endured at her dad's hands, I was amazed. She just called him in spite of her hurt just to tell him that she loves him. Then the thought came to me to call my dad. I just figured, you know, I'm pretty much over the bitterness, and I don't really care that we don't have a relationship.
The magic of the moment was what I saw in my girlfriend that I never thought of before. Her call to her dad was not going to benefit her in any way. But she called him, for his sake
. Totally for his sake, so that he would be reminded that he still has a loving daughter that thinks of him on fathers day. That day, it took her a lot of energy, and a lot of tears to do that.
That inspired me. I said what the hell? If she can do that, and be nice to her dad for his sake, why don't I just go on and do the same thing?
So I just non-chalantly phoned the old man while she was organizing and unpacking. She stopped when she overheard me on the phone.
"Happy fathers day."
"Who is this?"
"Oh hi, Roger." I got a big grin on my face, and started shaking my head. Dad saying this would have made me hit the ceiling years ago. Roger is his "stepson" turned "son", who always had the relationship with dad that I never had, but I longed for. But it made me laugh affectionately, and no, my feelings were not in the least bit hurt. I totally understood why dad thought it was Roger.
"No dad, it's not Roger."
"Who is it then?"
"Dad! It's Paul. Remember, your only son?"
I could tell his memory wasn't what it used to be, but he did finally remember me. We talked. And we laughed together. My girlfriend was totally amazed, because she knew about how my relationship with dad was stormy and strained. She was all smiles and ended up talking with my dad. What a sweetheart.
I just did what she did - monkey see - monkey do. But the magic was that all the baggage that used to consume me had dissapated. I wanted to call my dad because I wanted him to, hopefully, feel joy. I wanted the moment to be his, not mine
. And it was. My girlfriend said it couldn't have went better.
What a darn simple thing for me to do - it didn't cost me a penny. My words made an old man in Florida very happy. It took my lady completely off-guard, and gave her a sense of admiration for me that I don't think she had until then.
It was such a little thing. I just applied one of the spiritual principles. It was my girl that inspired me to do this - it wasn't even my own idea! But I got that peculiar AA math - a huge positive return on something I thought was just a drop in the bucket. It didn't even conjer up any kind of negative feelings within me. Just a little-bitty thing.
I made an elderly dad a happy man this Sunday. My girlfriend talked so much about me with him, that it made dad real proud. He told her "Then I did something good, didn't I?"
Going back to what Heather said - by golly Heather, you are right. I'm thankful that the old coot gave me life. If it weren't for him, none of this good life I have, including the 10+ years of sobriety I love, would have been possible. If it weren't for that old coot, none of the words that I spill out all over this forum would be here. None of the alcoholics that I've helped, would have been helped in the same way.
If I never hear from dad again, I'll know he died feeling good that his son, that he obviously felt gulity about abandoning, still cares about him. Funny thing is that I do care about him - maybe not all sentimental and mushy like I have a real dad/son realationship. But I care for the man because he is pretty much like you or me. He's lived life and done things he regrets, but I suppose he tried pretty hard to make a positive contribution to life on his end, even if it didn't include me. For sure, the world is no worse.
Then there's Roger. A career Navy submariner who retired from serving this country with distinction. Who knows how many good young men Roger made a positive impact on in his career. Roger got the benefit of growing up with a father who took care of his mom and brother. Roger got to enjoy the love of a father. So my dad's love wasn't lost or wasted.
I guess that's what matters most. Dad's life wasn't in vain. He made a big difference - probably to a lot of people - even to me!
I can look back at what I thought was once the worst expereince any boy could have, and today I can smile and know in my heart it was all for the good. No hard feelings whatever! That is profound, my friends.
See what you've done for me? A "Big Book", 12-Steps, and a fellowship -my life has become a mighty nice place to hang around in.
Thank you, all of you
for your time and care in helping me to stay sober and to achieve sobriety. And I don't think I'd be out-of-order in saying that my dad also thanks you.
PS-Since it was late that night, and he thought I was Roger, I wonder if Roger called his father? Maybe reality is stranger than fiction?