I believe that one of the worst moments for a child is the day they realize their parents are human, that they’re not perfect. Suddenly this world that you seem to understand so perfectly is turned upside down.
Now this moment doesn’t have to be something incredibly traumatic, for myself it was something very small. My father worked at a factory from 2pm-midnight and sometimes when he came home he would bring me candy. Now he told me that he got it at work so as a kid I imagined this giant candy store in the middle of this old dusty factory. I would ask him questions about this Wonka-Candy factory within a factory and he would tell stories that would leave me starry eyed. It wasn’t until I went on a tour with him once that he admitted there wasn’t really a candy store within his work, he just liked how amazed I seem to be when he told this story.
The realization that my dad had a normal job and had lied to me caused my child-like mind to pause for a second. From that point on I no longer believed him whole-heartily. Again it was minor and I wasn’t mad but it caused me to question things from there on out. 🙂
My father was a great man, flawed, but great. I remember playing cowboys and Indians with him until the sun set. I remember running around the yard playing lazer tag until the lazer tag belts ran out of charge. I can still remember trying to stay on his knee as we pretended it was a horse desperately trying to buck me off. I can remember playing video games with him and every time he lost a life he would accuse the game of cheating.
I also remember the times that bring pain and disappointment. I remember the fights he had with my mother when she questioned his fidelity. I remember him being combative at work and having a hard time keeping a job. I remember having to try and keep him together when my mom & sister passed despite the fact that I felt like I was falling apart. I remember him failing to take care of himself and ending up in & out of the hospital. I remember him in a wheel chair, not able to walk, and barely able to take care of himself until the day he passed.
So what does it all mean? I’m still searching for the answer. I am the person that I am today because of his example, because of what he taught me. I watched as he opened the door for others, answered yes ma’am to ladies, and was always willing to help out a perfect stranger. In the end I believe we have to take the good with the bad. My father wasn’t perfect, but I hope I learned from his flaws, hopefully the same way he learned from his father’s flaws.
Even with all the bad I can still say that I am proud to have called him my father. No matter what life holds for me if, at the end of the day, my (future) children can say the same thing about me, then he did his job.
The funny thing is that as a child the first story I heard that took me to a special place, that captured my imagination, and that placed a picture in my head so permanently that I can still remember what I thought it looked like today, was my father telling me about that magical candy store in the middle of an old dusty factory.