When my Dad passed away in 1979, I didn’t realize he would wind up being buried on his 52nd birthday. It made a great excuse to get high and stay numb for many years afterwards. I had no idea how to deal with no longer being Daddy’s little girl. The truth is that I didn’t know how to process or feel emotions. I was never taught this growing up, so I did what I knew.
When I was born, my Dad was convinced he was having a boy. When the doctor came out (men didn’t go into the labor room in those days) and congratulated him on having a daughter, he made the doctor go back and double check. He never entertained the idea that he might not have a son. That story haunted me for years. It set the tone for not feeling good enough. I wasn’t even who my Dad wanted me to be.
As I got quiet and starting writing this blog, I started to think I actually took advantage of knowing he had no idea what to do with a daughter. From the earliest time I can remember, I knew how to manipulate him to get what I wanted. After all these years of him being gone (41 of my 62 years alive), I am still learning about our relationship.
We could sit for hours and talk, and in some ways our worlds revolved around each other. When I was eight, we would get up early on Saturday mornings and go to breakfast together before everyone else woke up. Those were the most special times I recall as a kid. I don’t even remember what we talked about, but I knew we would get to be together every week. To this day, when I see a dad and daughter hanging out, it brings tears to my eyes. If the moment presents itself, I’ll let the little girl know how lucky she is to have special time with her dad.
It was until many years later when I went into therapy that I found out our relationship had some inappropriate aspects. It was so hard to accept because I had one Dad and he was my everything. If he said or did something, it was okay. It was painful to find out that things weren’t as they should have been and him not being there to talk to about it. I eventually came to peace with it because I know he did the best he could with how he was parented. You can’t teach or do what you don’t know.
The memories of my Dad are blurred. I don’t know what I have made up in my mind to cover up the painful things that happened. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. No matter what, I was Daddy’s little girl. To this day it is the most special role I have held.
Happy birthday in heaven, Daddy!