A letter to my father

Dear dad, I know that it must have been hard for you, this life.

And I am sorry now, for I have never been the best that I could have been to you. Sorry for every eye roll, every phrase spoken harshly, every time that I said goodbye without a backwards glance even when I could feel your gaze on me as I walked away, hoping that I would turn around and tell you that I loved you. I am so sorry. Sorry that I haven’t ever made the effort to give back to you half of what you have given me, half of what you have given all of us. You’ve given so much, yet I so little.

You were so extremely young when you had Sandra and Steve. And then so much older when you had Iz and me. It seems cruel and unforgivable that all of what had happened hadn’t taken its toll between us the way that it had taken a toll on our relationship with you. No one was to blame yet all the blame seemed to have come burdening and toppling all over you and no one else. It is wrong and I know it, yet it is something that I cannot deny anymore.

I can see now, you reaching out, grabbing at us, waving helplessly against this wall constructed for reasons known yet twisted and misconstrued.

We don’t see each other often anymore, maybe once or twice a year and even then we do not truly see each other. When we are all together I can see the weariness in the four pairs of eyes exchanging glances across the table. We turn to each other, avoiding ever having to look you in the eye and let our walls down, the defensive walls that go up against you that never exist amongst ourselves. I can see now, you reaching out, grabbing at us, waving helplessly against this wall constructed for reasons known yet twisted and misconstrued. It kills me inside every time, yet I have always looked away.

The cards were never stacked in your favor. The divorce, the second marriage, the fighting, the crying, the gambling, the drinking, the constant moving about during our childhood. It is a lie to say that they did not leave scars and wounds growing up. Scars and wounds that were never healed and mourned for properly, they were instead messily bandaged with grief and anger. By finding someone to blame for our journeys to adulthood made so burdensome and toiling on shoulders not yet fully formed.

Bandaged by blaming you.

We looked to you for answers yet you were never there. We were so young and so lost on the beaten path and when we wanted you to promise us that it would all be alright you just shook your head. And so we never looked to you again. We looked to each other and we leaned on our mothers. We cut you from our world because we wanted to hurt you the way that you had unintentionally hurt us. You were not the father we wanted you to be so we grew up to be children set on brutally letting you down.

of course I love you, because you are my dad.

But it hurts so much inside. I even doubt sometimes if you know that I love you. For me to look across to you and see you break down and cry. It is not just and I know it has gone on far too long.

And of course I love you, because you are my dad. (I want to shout it across the mountaintops so you will never have to doubt it again.) I see myself in you, even when I try to deny it. You have always stayed true to yourself, and perhaps these were the consequences. But they need not be. In our life you have been a prisoner sentenced without a proper hearing, cast away from us, far off in solitude to a desert island. You hadn’t met your granddaughter until she was three and you have only now just held your grandson in your arms. When we talk about family we talk about mothers and siblings, nieces and nephews, but skimming quickly over the detail of you.

It was never your fault and there was never anything to forgive. Yet I forgive all of us. I see now that you did your best to raise us all.
From left to right: Sandra, my father, my mama holding me, Iz (in the belly!), and Steve

It was never your fault and there was never anything to forgive. Yet I forgive all of us. I see now that you did your best to raise us all. You had always been the best dad that you could have been. And that should always be enough. It is enough. To be the best that we could be, to be the best that we can be.

And I am ready now for my turn. So sorry that it has taken so long.

I love you pa, always & forever,
Luiza

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