I’ve kept going back and forth as to whether I want to post this. I’m an open person though. I like being able to put my thoughts and feelings out there for the public and start conversations. Maybe this will start one either here or in your home. I hope it’s a positive one about family, love and knowing what is important in your life.
I have heard that you shouldn’t speak ill of the dead. I’ve also heard that you shouldn’t lie. These two statements are sometimes extremely contradictory.
I lost my father long before his death this last April. I mourned his death years ago.
I sit in an office in a homeless shelter filled with 50 or so veterans. Most of them recently sober from drugs or alcohol, appreciative that our government does what little it does to take care of them.
These men are real men. They have fought in wars and met the devil in his den face-to-face. They have survived with sometimes not much left to call their own but their names. Yet they have more than my supposed protector and defender ever dreamt of having. They have honor, a sense of service, humility and determination to better their situation. And yet they still find humor everyday.
My father died in April. It hurt and my heart ached for others in my family and I sympathized for their loss, but a sense of loss was absent, as my father was most of my life. More concerned with where his next dollar was and where his next drink was, regardless of his feelings for his children, we always came in third after vodka and money. I have no doubt that he loved us, but showing that love proved impossible when chasing those first two unattainable ends.
The men here have felt the wrath of vodka and money. Instead of itching for where they could find it, most realized it left them empty. Homeless and broken, they went out in search of a better way. Maybe it was because they served they were able to overcome their addiction. He didn’t. He went out of his way to NOT serve in the military and cursed me and his other children for doing so.
I still remember the “inspiring” letter I received from him in the middle of basic training telling me I was dead to him and how ungrateful I was; how selfish joining the Air Force was.
I realize now, there was a sense of resentment in him. All three of his children did voluntarily what he wasn’t able to do when asked.
Today, sitting at the front desk while making sure each of my veterans are accounted for, I realize I’m surrounded by the kind of men I always wanted in a father.
No matter how many times I told him, I still wish he had heard me when I told him that money never mattered to me. I would rather have a homeless daddy fighting for sobriety and his family than a filthy rich alcoholic who shared my DNA, but not my life.