June 18, 2006

Father's Day... is your father gone?

Richard Althouse

Mine is.

56 comments:

Ron said...

Mine too. Though we did not end well, and I didn't go to the funeral.

SteveR said...

Mine too, when I was forty. Having lost my mom at 14, we were very close but he suffered the last ten years of his life, it that sense a relief. A great man.

Alan Kellogg said...

May 8th, 1972. Lung cancer.

He moved out in 1965, wound up with his sister, Genevive after a couple of years. I suspect he had the problems I do with depression, social phobia, and generalized anxiety disorder. Plus a severe nicotine addiction.

I don't smoke, thanks to him. And I understand what tobacco smoke can do to a person, thanks to him. I know that smoking is not a right, it is slow suicide, thanks to him.

And then there was the time...

I was 7 and the four of us, three young boys and their dad, were walking along a Lemon Grove sidewalk (small town east of San Diego). I fell a bit behind, and as I passed an alleyway I man stepped out and grabbed me by the hair. At the time we had our hair done by the Navy, so it was rather short. Too short to get a good grip on, so I was able to get away.

Ran up to dad and told him about the incident. Dad told us very firmly to stay there, and went back to the alley.

He came back a bit later, flexing his hand and rubbing his knuckles. He looked grimly satisfied.

DBrooks said...

My father is still here, yet he is gone. As did his younger brother and his father before him, my Dad has Focal Degenerative Dementia--a form of Alzheimer's. What was once a funny, animated, handsome, athletic, intelligent man is now a shell of that former self. To watch everything he was slowly recede and disappear has been a sad, sad process. There are still those rare moments when HE seems to be in there, but those moments happen less and less often. The love remains and sustains, but the loss seems more draining because it has been so slow, insidious, and insistent. One positive is that he appears less aware of his deterioration the worse he becomes, and is spared that cruel reality. It's trite, but our time here is fleeting. Love those in your life, and make sure they know you do.

al said...

February 25th, 1987. Drank himself to death 1.5 years after my mom died.

We had lots of issues as I was growing up. My sisters had raised me to be me rather than a clone of my dad like my brothers were.

Still - I wish I could say Happy Fathers Day to his face today.

Anthony said...

Sorry to hear that, Ann. Mine passed away last November. I'm only now starting to not feel sad all the time. (Not like I'm moping around or anything, but, you know. . . .)

I wasn't there -- infection after a fairly routine surgery for lung cancer -- but I had nothing of profound importance to say to him.

But you were a good dad, Dad.

Joan said...

December 7, 1997.

He was a good man. I look more like him the older I get. I like it, looking in the mirror and seeing an echo of him looking back at me.

kimsch said...

Mine too. September 4, 2002. Esophageal cancer. I miss him mightily.

vnjagvet said...

Mine's been gone since 1960. Heart attack at age 48.

Much too young.

But at least I had him in my life for twenty years, and I never had to experience him in failing health.

Internet Ronin said...

Mine is still here and age 76. Although he quit smoking 29 years ago, and was always physically fit, emphysema gradually crept into his life and he has been using oxygen for the past 3 years.

I'm lucky that I see him and my mom 3 or 4 times a week, so the changes in his condition are less apparent to me than my siblings, who live further away. My dad never was a reader or one to sit still for long, always fiddling with something out in the garage or the yard. Those pursuits are now a thing of the past, as walking from one end of the house to the other is now a challenge. He loved to take his Model A's out for a drive around the area every morning but now it's a major effort to take one around the block, so "we" go for a drive in one or the other every time I go over. ("Why don't you drive today?" Words I thought I'd never live to hear from a man who probably drove close to a million miles because he always drove everywhere.)

We'll take the cars out today, all of them, because the whole family will be here. We'll do a little tour and I'll lag behind a bit in mine so he can watch his cars go on ahead and around the curves. It has always been his favorite view.

Joe said...

Lost my dad November 7, 1976, a few weeks before his 53rd birthday. Diabetic, with a heart condition, he stopped caring about life when my mom died three years earlier, at 49, of cancer. The 7th happened to be my father in law's birthday, so when my wife called with the news, they were expecting a birthday call.
My father was not highly educated, but he was the finest gentleman I have ever known.

Impacted Wisdom Truth said...

My father passed away in June of 1990, 55 years of age. Here is a small tribute to him.

Brendan said...

Still alive (72) and taking a walking trip in Ireland next month. Kidney stone operation almost killed him in '75.

DookOfURL said...

My daddy died of a stroke on July 4, l982, and I miss him still. I was a married woman, aged 33, but still felt like an orphan on that sad day.

He was like me (or I like him) and loved reading and history (the only thing my mother ever read was the Bible) and even now, when I read a particularly interesting book, I think, "I'll have to tell Dad about this".

Then I remember I'll have to tell him later.

shake-and-bake said...

My dad died 20 years ago; my mom 18. I still think of them daily and miss them terribly. The two finest people I have ever known.

Kev said...

Mine is still around at age 74. He and Mom celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary a few weeks ago (on the same day as Ann's son Chris's birthday, as I also remarked then), and it was a great party. I brought a band to play for them, and they had so many friends there that they talked themselves hoarse.

Reading about how many fellow commenters have lost their dad already makes me appreciate having mine around even more. I think it's time to make that phone call now...

kimsch said...

Dook,

Oh how that strikes a chord with me. Dad loved reading and learning and cooking. I'll make up a new recipe and want to tell him about it. He knows. But what a conversation we'll have later on.

Finn Kristiansen said...
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Finn Kristiansen said...

My father died in 1992, on November 15th, while watching television with me on a Sunday morning. One of the morning political shows. Heart attack. I was 24, he was 52.

I miss him, and the security of having "back up" on earth. Nobody to turn to now.

amba said...

I hope that this will inspire more joy than bitter envy: I still have my father, and I'm 60 and he's 88, and not only all there but more there than ever. He had a close brush with death in 1985, when he was 67, the age at which both his parents died; they had discovered that his coronary arteries were severely blocked and he began having the inevitable heart attack on the surgical table. That bypass 21 years ago seemed to open up his heart. He used to be kind of stoical and inhibited, and now he can write something like this. What a blessing!

Suli said...

My father is very much with us, 78 years in. And still the original love of my life :)

Sulizano

Icepick said...
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Icepick said...

Amba, we may be a little envious, but we won't be bitter. It's good to know it's not ALL about the dead fathers, lol.

Any-no-hows, my father died back in 1989, when I was 21. Probably for the best for all concerned. He was already in his sixties, and old drunks just get worse with age. Still, I think I'll write something about one of his finer moments tonight....

Maxine Weiss said...

Ann, your father looks like a young Frank Sinatra in that photo.

Peace, Maxine

Ellen said...

So many fathers gone. Mine too, January 1995, fourteen years after my mother. And my brother, who left two stepsons, died last October at the age of 45. That's the hardest part; it was the four of us and there is no one left but me to remember our life together. God bless them all, and all of you with your remembrances. Thank goodness there is my husband whose fatherhood we celebrate today, and his father who, now, is my father.

Lou Minatti said...

Not mine. He decided to go off and do his own thing when I was a small child, so in one way he is gone.

I think it is better to have a father who loves his children very much and dies at an early age rather than having a father who lives a long life and could care less. I am envious of those of you who had fathers while you were growing up.

Ann Althouse said...

Maxine: Yes, and Frank Sinatra was young at the time the picture was taken too. I talk about this in the podcast. My father used to get mistaken for Sinatra and asked for an autograph, which he gave (as Frank Sinatra).

Zoe Brain said...

My Father died in 1993. I was so proud to be his son, I tried very hard to follow in his footsteps. Not easy when you're Transsexual, but if ever an example was worth following, his was.

My son - has lost his father too, in one way, now. I'm still here, but no longer able to pretend to be male.

But he still has me as Zeddy rather than Daddy, and I'll still play Daddy games with him as long as there's breath left in my body. And as a male role model he still has his Grandpa, my Father-in-Law, as fine a man as ever lived.

The one thing, the only thing I will ever miss about the whole Male schtick was being Daddy. That I miss very much, especially on Father's Day.

misterbrad said...

April 29, 2006, age 62, heart attack. He went suddenly, and I had no chance to say goodbye. I would have told him what a good father he was. He was always there for me, and I loved him very much.

AlbuquerqueAmerican said...

Thank you all for sharing. It helps me realize God's blessings in still being able to talk to may dad (and mom---just celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary), albeit all too very seldom.

Be joyful in the gift of a father who loved you. Be even more joyful in being a good father (or mother) to your own children.

amba said...

Well, Icepick, if you do write about your father, I'll be reading it . . .

vw dhaqh (obviously Arabic or Afghan . . . but what would it mean?)

OddD said...

I've slumped in your chair,
Tossed and turned in your bed,
Lurked in your lair,
I have lived in your head,

Where others were closer,
No one is nearer,
As I glimpse you in me,
In the hallway mirror.


--"Mirrors", Loudon Wainright III

(My relationship with my own dad fortunately less contentious than that of the Loudons II & III.)

Cathy said...

Dec. 1st. 1990. Is when I lost my Dad.
I still miss him and I forever will.

Video said...

November 3, 2005, age 75. Prostate cancer killed him after a 13-year remission. Toughest guy I ever knew. Also the wisest and most generous. We got to spend a lot of good time at the end. After he was gone, his hospice aide told me that he said he considered me his brother.

I spent Father's Day working, knowing he'd rather I did that than mope around.

Pogo said...
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Pogo said...

My dad is in his early 70s, and has a form of dementia, but he can still see through the fog at times. Yesterday he was telling my 12 year old son some of the finer rules of self-protection when one is the smallest one in your class, spot-on advice from a guy who knew.

He boxed as a boy, a local golden gloves champ. I didn't know of this when I was a kid, though, for he was always a big ol' teddy bear, until one day when his ferocity was required.

My brother, one year older than I, is retarded, and in the park that day he went off by himself. I saw my Dad striding over to a small circle of kids, and I ran over to see what was wrong. In the center was an older boy, shoving my brother around. My Dad called, "Whatthehellareyoudoing!" and the snotty teen said something about "he's talkin' funny".

My Dad clenched his fist and said, very, very, low and slow: "If you leave now, I won't have to pound your face until you bleed. You have five seconds." Off the boy ran, and Dad stared at the surrounding group who stood by doing nothing and they looked ashamed.

Three lessons from that:
1. Never ever pick on the weak.
2. Never ever stand by and watch.
3. Never ever mess with a man's kids!
Happy Father's Day, Pops!

MadisonMan said...

My Dad is still going, somewhat strong, at 83. He has lived a great life, far beyond his allotted 3 score and 10, as he says. Still lives with my mom in the house I grew up in. They were one of the original families on the block in the late 50s, and now they're one of 2 left.

Yesterday he got stitches out of his hand, he was using a scythe to cut grass and 'did something stupid' as he says.

My father-in-law, 89-and 1/2, is also around, but he's starting to have spells, as they say. But yesterday when we saw him was a good day for him.

I feel very lucky that my kids know their grandfathers. Both of mine died in the late 40s, both the year before my parents married. (It was a subdued wedding)

Kev said...

Icepick--great story...but man, what a horrible year you had! I'm glad you were able to find humor in the unlikeliest of places (and I wonder if that police officer is embarrassed to this day).

howzerdo said...

Nice post, and interesting comments. My father is still here, at age 79. My mother too, she is 73. Both are active (more than me, I think), vital and healthy. I spent yesterday with them. Everyday I give thanks for how blessed I am.

Icepick said...

Kev, some years just suck. There was an upside to all that tumult, though. Namely when it was over, it was over. Some of the other stories in this comment thread have been worse if dfor nothing else than dragging on over large swathes of time.

The important thing to remember is that it can always get worse. So live it up before the sh*t really hits the fan.

Jim said...

My dad died at age 93, having lived long enough to make a lot of people miserable, especially grandkids, who were always greeted with, "I know, you only come to visit me because your mother makes you."

A lifelong bigot, he lived to regret having busted a fellow sailor he suspected of being gay only to find some of his in-laws turned out to be gay. Chicago Irish, his greatest fear was the neighborhood-by-neighborhood advance of the "niggers." Of course, justice demanded that the last person to take care of him or see him in his final days be a black nurse.

I just know I deserve to die in the arms of a religious-fundamentalist democrat.

Rose said...

my father died when i was 9 yrs old. then my husband died when my youngest son was 9 yrs old . Now i find out my younger son is drinking. he's now 16 yrs old. Before my husband died, all i thought about was my dad, especially on fathers day. after my husband died, all i think about is how my children feel, especially on fathers day. this is a double whammy for me. i'm devastated about my son. what should i do? what should i tell him? both my children are hurting, and i hurt for them too.

R

Simon said...

Rose, I wish I had advice to offer, but I have only sympathy... I'm sorry for your situation. :(

David said...

My Dad died in his early 60's. He fought in WWII and Korea. He worked hard raising a family and was married to Mom for 40 years. They are together now and my brothers and I have only memories to console us.

His secret for life was work hard, complain little, have a sense of humor, patience, and commitment to something larger than himself. All-in-all, a fitting legacy.

Rest In Peach, Dad! Your memory lives on in the lives of those who knew you.

David said...

That should be "Peace" and not peach, although he was a "peach of a guy!"

What fine memories...

Jennifer said...

Rose - My heart goes out to you and your boys. I have no experience with older children except my memories of being one. All I can suggest is that the time you spend with your son - however grudgingly on his part - truly does make a difference. Sitting down for dinner every night together. Watching tv together instead of separating to your own areas every evening. Inviting his friends over for dinner. And so on...

Beyond that, sometimes too much empathy is overwhelming.

You sound like a fine and very loving mother, Rose. Your boys are lucky to have you!

Fritz said...

Rose,
It's not too late. Check your health policy for mental health benefits. If you don't have the necessary funds, check with your local Catholic Charities, they offer free or minor fees. Your son needs to talk with someone that can help him deal with his hurt. My daughter was struggling in school, I knew how scared she was, but my wife & I could not get through to her. Her sessions with a physiologist that she feels comfortable with the past year have been extraordinary. Your son may first balk, but you will be surprised how quickly they accept the help you will be giving.

Beth said...

Rose, I can sympathize with you and your son. I went through some struggles with drinking and just being self-destructive for a short while after my dad died. I also lost my sister when she was 29; I spent several years obsessing that I would die at 29, too, and for a couple of years afterward I was lost and unfocused, because I hadn't planned to live longer than that. Eventually, I used a therapist for help and it worked for me. The way you describe being very focused, maybe obsessively, on your father's and now husband's, death, is familiar to me. But your son doesn't have to feel the same way. He can learn to cope with his loss.

Fritz is right about checking your health benefits. But if those fall short, look in your community for groups of people who can help share your burden, like grief counseling or support groups, and maybe Al-anon to learn ways to respond to your son's drinking.

Pogo said...

I second Beth's advice.

I also think that at his age, he is in desperate need of an adult male role model. And while talk therapy and medicines (if depressed, as seems likely) can be valuable, do-therapy is useful, too. Especially at 16, when talking is hard.

Thus, a male therapist might be useful. Being on a sports team or taking martial arts can can also help displace the agression he feels appropriately, instead of to himself, and keep him disciplined. If he has even the slightest interest, having him be an assistant coach for grade school teams pairs him with an adult male and makes him be a part-time grown-up, supervised.

But alcohol is an effective painkiller, and he needs to be aware that how he learns to manage this pain will become a pattern for how he'll manage all of life's many pains. So it's a bad long-term approach (although long-term isn't what he's seeing right now). If so, he might benefit from considering himself at war with his demons, and the best reponse is to become a warrior. Alcohol just poisons you, lulls you. Let someone train him and teach him a focused discipline, one that appeals to his personality.

Galvanized said...

Rose, I am sorry for your losses. It is good that you're such an understanding mother. I also have a teenager, and so many of them experiment with alcohol, and there are many who are already alcoholics. I would say that parentl involvement and interest is the key. It's hard because alcohol (used without moderation) is a socially accepted drug, so many parents never step in to stop it, so you're halfway there. For teens, the first logical step is to stop them from going to weekend parties, which is where the alcohol is. When the parties were no longer allowed, my teen made new, healthier friendships with kids, and this has helped. Maybe it would help your son, too. I guess it's just a matter of filling up his free time with something else constructive. It is a good thing to get to know his friends very well and maybe have them over for dinner and movies at your home with clear curfews and rules. Home is a haven for your son, and to share it with friends might give him pride in his family where he feels right now that it's missing an integral members; so to fill home with people again might help. I lost a brother when I was 14, and I distinctly remember the forks in the road and making a conscious effort to talk to people about it, and it's also when I found my faith (with time). For a long time, all our family concentrated on was the gap in our home life until we eventually had to fill it ourselves with new activities/people (although there is no substitute for our loved ones). So, like the others said, maybe a male role model (Big Brothers comes to mind) would help out. For us, the youth pastor at our church was invaluable and made a point to fill up weekends with activities and have quality time to talk with kids. Lastly, does he have clear hopes and plans for his future? If he's 16, he might be anxious about post-high school -- college, work, money. A meeting of you two with the school counselor might be needed, where he can learn more about options. And, of course, a job often ties up times to keep a teen out of trouble. It helps to help him keep track of his earnings and savings, and would give you time together and him pride as he becomes a man. Sincerely, God bless you and your family. I hope that your loss turns into personal growth for the children. Just remember communities (schools, churches, organizations) readily offer support in so many areas if you just reach out. It's hard for some of us, but it's rewarding.

Galvanized said...

And Jennifer is right -- that dinner time at the table together every night really helps!

Internet Ronin said...

Rose - The suggestions you've already received are all excellent. I can only second them and implore you to guide your son into counseling of some type, for his sake as well as yours.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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TC said...

Rose, I also will second the excellent ideas above. I was 22 when my dad passed. I think I along with my younger siblings all struggled with it. Counseling, or just being encouraged to talk about it would have helped, I'm sure.

You're a great mom. Hang in there.

Dean

Beth said...

Ruth Anne, I'm sorry to hear about your handsome dad's passing. So much changed over the years after my dad died; I hope you're doing well despite the loss.

Ruth Anne Adams said...
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