My dad died 4 years ago. His name was Jozef. He was smaller than me (but to standards, I am above average in a lot of ways, not to brag).
My dad and I never had a very stable loving relationship after my mom and dad broke up. I think this was mainly due to the manipulation of my mom, not what my dad did towards me, because he never did anything towards me, except the occassional slap against my head (I think I can count them on one hand).
My mom and dad remarried, and during my puberty my dad and I had really not a fun relationship at all. We were at eachothers hairs a lot. We fought mostly verbally and I can count on the few times he actually struck me or I struck him. In my biggest rage I hit him only once because he was pushing me over my threshold for about an hour or 2.
But still… he was my dad. I loved him.
When my parents split up for the first time… There was a while that he didn’t pick me up for the weekends at his place and when he was at my aunt, I went up and asked up (it took all my bravery and holding back my tears to do so), only to be met with shouting “How do you think it feels for me?” and I walked back to the car and cried my eyes out. (I don’t know how accurate this memory is with the reality of it happening, as it happened more than 2 decades ago and I have replayed that part over, and over, and over again those past 2 decades).
I only understood how it must have felt for him, after I met my ex and I had to put her back on the bus towards an enviroment that was anything but healthy for her. I didn’t eat for 3 days afterwards. Only then did I understand how it must have felt for my dad. More than a decade and a half after it happened to me.
When he was living on his own again, I only visited him 2 times. I helped him move and did the bulk of the moving. (I was a very strong guy in the time). My sister manipulated my dad during that time and made it so that when contact was established, it was broken again soon after. When I first visited, I collapsed and cried (because what I saw wasn’t the dad I remembered, and I had prepared myself for a verbal fight, not to be forgiven). This wasn’t the dad I remembered. This was only a shell. The dad I had known was gone. From the moment I saw him last, he only lived 3 more years.
I visited him once in the nursing home (long story: his kidneys broke down and he didn’t have a place to live anymore thanks to my sister). He didn’t recognize me due to my long hair. He fell backwards and I caught him and only felt then how fragile he was. How little he weighed. I visited him again to sign away the responsibility of handling his money, because that would have been a fight I didn’t want to fight. A fight I didn’t have the power to fight, now or ever.
My mom picked him up 2 times after that. Once to visit the house were he had lived so many years and once because I had made soup and cake. He wasn’t a big eater anymore, but he refused to eat in the nursing home. He ate two bowls of soup (the way he and I both like it: so many vegetables that your spoon almost stands upright).
When he went away, he did something he had never done in his whole life. He thanked me for that afternoon and for the soup.
When I heard that he was going to die. I visited his bed the whole week that he was in the hospital. All his family came to visit and we swore that around the bed anyone was welcome and we wouldn’t fight. We didn’t.
The most beautiful part for me, was when our family of 5 (my mom, my dad, my 2 sisters and me) were reunited for a brief moment around his bed. Now, nothing of that whole situation is there anymore and I have missed that feeling since I was 6 years old, when my parents first divorced eachother. Long post, but this had to get out of my system.
It is almost the 4th year of my dad’s dying and I had to type how it felt growing up with him. It wasn’t always easy, but somehow, I still loved my dad, and know only now, how he must have felt during certain parts. What I know for certain is that he must have been autistic, like me, because we have so many of the same traits.
I never said this to him, but I think I must have shown it at least a dozen times or more.
Dad, I love you.