Today marks a sad anniversary. My dad died 22 years ago today - he was 42 years old and we had absolutely NO warning. It was a Sunday. It was my freshman year of college and I was in bed at home when he had a massive heart attack. He was rushed to the hospital but the damage was too great and they could not save him.
Unlike the relationship I spoke about yesterday that I have with my mother, I was not close to my father at all. He was - as the trite saying goes - "emotionally unavailable". Why? I don't know. He was a Vietnam Vet, he lost his father to a massive heart attack when I was 10 months old. And he lost his best friend in a freak and tragic accident when I was about 8-ish.
And he had a drinking problem. There was a study done several years ago that showed that while sons of men with drinking problems often end up with drinking problems themselves, the daughters - especially eldest daughters - are more likely to have eating disorders.
My father used to make fun of my weight. He did it in a joking manner and I think he thought he was being funny - I'm not sure he realized how much it hurt. Which made me feel terrible about myself. Which made me eat. Hello, irony.
Now don't get me wrong. I have been an adult for a long time and my weight problem was my fault, period. I am the one who chose not to do anything about it for a long time. But we can't discount the impact that people and experiences play in influencing the direction of our lives - especially when they happen in childhood.
I always have been and am still jealous - even 22 years later! - when I hear women talk about being "Daddy's little girl" or see the relationship that Marc's nieces have with my brother-in-law. That is something that I feel is a profound void in my life.
I know my father loved me, he just didn't know how to show it. I was in a pretty bad car accident when I was 16. The car was totaled, but I was fine. My father saw me at the accident site and I was up and walking and talking. But the ambulance workers wanted me in the ambulance on a backboard which is SOP for an accident like that. My parents were waiting when the ambulance arrived at the ER and I was unloaded on a stretcher. My father saw me and burst into tears and quickly turned away. And I was SHOCKED. I mean completely and utterly SHOCKED. He obviously felt things and could not show his emotions.
I often wonder what our relationship would be like if he had lived. There is no way of knowing. I wonder if he would be proud of the things in life I have accomplished so far and the choices I make. I hope he would...