Monday, July 27, 2009


I was inspired by Becky's post on her father to discuss my father in more detail.

My dad grew up in the coal mining town of Beckley West Virginia. His father worked in the coal mines and spent most of his off time drinking his paycheck away. My grandmother struggled to keep enough food on the table and often failed. She worked odd jobs whenever possible, but work was not always easy to come by and having four small children at home did not help her ability to hold down a job.

They had to move a lot, every time they were out of rent money. My grandparents fought horribly over the lack of money and divorced in the late 1960's.

My dad grew up watching his mother struggle and himself going hungry so his brothers and sister wouldn't. He spent his childhood wondering why his dad did not love them enough to provide for them.

My dad grew up and married my mother, when they discovered that I was coming along, he quit his job at Sears and entered the police academy. He knew that a police officer would have a stable career that would give them enough (barely) to live on while allowing my mom to stay home with me.

Once he was trained and an established officer he began taking these security jobs, standing at the entrance of a jewelry store for hours and hours making sure that nothing bad happened, or directing mall traffic during the Christmas rush.

I grew up with a loving and devoted mom who made homemade donuts and took us to the pool every day in the summer. We read together, played together, cooked together and cleaned up together. Once Smug-Sister and brother were born we were all friends and did everything together with mom. My mom and I have always been close and always shared a strong bond.

I hardly saw my dad. I was desperate for time with him and I honestly believe that the back problems he has today are a direct result of all the times I would cling to him, my arms wrapped so tightly around his neck that he was unable to pull away and stand up. When he was home he was working around the house, mowing, fixing something, etc. He never took me to a ballgame or the fair, I can only remember one time that he joined the family at the pool. He was never home, never around.

When I became a teenager, I confronted him, saying to him that he must not love me since he never wanted to be around me. His reply was how could I believe that he did not love me, he worked 3 sometimes 4 jobs at a time to keep food on the table. I could not understand why work was so much more important than I was to him. He did not understand why I did not feel his deep love for me by the way I always had enough to eat.

I was angry with him for many years and while we always got along and there wasn't every any open hostility between us, I was hurt and deeply angry. I always wondered what I had done to make him not want to be around me; why he did not love me.

As I became and adult and had a few experiences with relationships myself and they ways of the world become clearer to me, I began to understand how my dad and I could have seen my childhood in different ways. I also began to realize that my parents were people who tried their best and still made mistakes.

I approached my dad and we talked. He told me how he had come to realize that while keeping food on the table was important, he had failed to find the balance between being the father and being the provider. He told me how sorry he was that he had missed all that time with me (and my siblings) when we were small.

I told him how I had come to put his past together with what he felt was so important. How he had felt that when his dad failed to provide that it meant he did not love his family and how my dad had wanted to deeply to love us better, to provide for us better, to give us a better childhood. I thanked him for loving me so much that he sacrificed his chance to spend more time with us as kids.

We decided then and there to do better by each other going forward. We did not say it in so many words, but we both decided to make more of an effort to be part of each others lives. He began my talking on the phone more, meeting for lunch every now and again. Over the last several years we have developed into good friends. We actually live about 2 minutes from each other and meet for an early morning bike ride every Saturday morning (OK, most Saturday mornings). He has become my friend, my confidant, my protector, my dad, my hero. He is human, he makes mistakes, but he loves me and what more can one really ask from a parent?


  1. wow this was powerful and sweet. he sounds like a great man and i'm glad y'all are close now!

  2. What a wonderful tribute - I'm so glad he figured it out before it was too late. In so many families, that epiphany never happens.

    Popped over from Tanya's to with you and your growing family a happy weekend. So nice to meet you!