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A Father's Day Missive

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Dear friends,

I know this does not really belong here in some respects, but...

My father and I were not close until Jane died not long after my mother. We were two widowers whose wives defined who we were in many ways. The loss brought us together.

If you had told me 10 years ago that I would miss him, I would have laughed. We rarely spoke and even more rarely agreed on anything. Jane once had to physically separate us or we would have come to blows. Then my mother died and Jane died and we finally had something in common.

Today is the first Father's Day since he died. I'm glad we finally were able to make peace. I just wish the cost had not been so high for both of us.

I was 40 before my father said he was proud of me. He hated nearly every choice I made from junior high school on--and he made sure I knew how disappointed he was in me. His attitude drove a wedge between us it took the deaths of both our wives to heal.

My father wanted an engineer or a scientist. I wanted to teach English and write. My father wanted a conservative. I was a liberal, at best. My father was raised in violence--and that violence colored his choices when it came to discipline to such an extent that it colored my choice about not having children for fear I would do to them what he had done to me.

In the last years of his life I came to love my father for the person he had become after I moved out of the house. He cared for my mother through her 15 year journey through Alzheimer's--even though she rarely knew who he was and tried on at least one occasion to kill him. When my sister's boyfriend turned into a physically abusive brute, he took her and her daughter in. I always admired his mind and the things he had done with it--he worked on the Nautilus, the testing for the Apollo heat shield, designed testing systems for nuclear power plants, and a dozen other things he was not allowed to talk about. At some point, that massive intellect grew a soul--and the workaholic found a life that was not bounded by solving engineering problems.

I am--and am not--his son. I hope that wherever he is now that my mother is there with him with her mind back and that he knows that much as I hated him for years, I eventually did love the person he became.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. May your next life be easier than this one.



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Harry, beautifully written. I'm sorry you went through so much, I understand...I did too, but you've gone the gamut and come through it, just as I did. It's nice to finally come to some peace after a lifetime of struggle/abuse. And it's nice to recognize that our parents were very human with some serious parenting defects, but in the end we came to love them for who they were, not just regret who they weren't.

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What you wrote touched my heart Harry ... I am 100% confident that your Dad knows that you love him and likewise he loves you.

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