Sunday, December 2, 2012

A sad anniversary...

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...

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