Friday, April 8, 2011

"G" is for Gift...

A to Z Challenge...
ABC's of My Life~




…the gift of understanding-




This is a follow up to the letter “D” for Dad. Some of you recommended forgiveness which has already been appropriated to him. However, through forgiveness and knowing bits and pieces of what his life entailed, I’ve been presented with another gift just as powerful--the gift of understanding.


My sister, Dawn, Dad and me.
My father- my one and only. The glaring facts are that he was an abusive alcoholic who beat my mother frequently and rode the proverbial revolving door in and out of our lives. When he wasn’t making us wait for hours on end for his presence for the ‘weekly visitations’, he would take my sister and I to some fun places; the lake for boating and fishing expeditions, the Silver Tavern Bar for hamburgers and greasy French fries in a plastic yellow basket, while the grownups drank Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, and who could forget visiting Orville, Ohio, my Dad’s childhood home in addition to the place where the infamous coach Bobby Knight was an old friend. The famed amusement park Cedar Point was an annual stopover with thrills and chills imparted to all.




Again, I say, he is my father and don’t we have lessons to be learned from those that came before us? That being said, I search for meaning and answers to my father’s existence which takes me back to his death. Just as he lived his life alone, he also died alone. He was found in his darkened apartment by the city police when no one had seen or heard from him in days. He was slumped in his worn reclining chair one foot from his big screen TV given that his eyesight had failed him and blaring from the box was ESPN, a direct result of hearing gone bad. His false teeth were located beneath the chair side table that held his magnifying glass and an old photo of my sister and I of all things. A path to the door was vacant of all furniture and remnants that clearly were swept aside as the goal of the medical examiner was to recover the body of what was once my Dad.




About a month before his death~
Days later when plans were executed according to his will; no funeral home, no visitation, no service, no nothing, therefore there was naught a task to do but peruse through what was deemed to be the treasures of his life. My sister and I hesitantly opened cabinets and drawers at an arm’s length to create distance from what, I’m not sure. As each carton was unfastened, a flood of memories descended upon us taking us through tears and laughter in a single moment. We filtered through faded pictures of family members both known and unknown.


These artifacts were suddenly the ashes of the burnt out dreams scattered to the wind of my father’s life including a write up in the sports section of the Fostoria Tribune that announced Robert Currier to be one of only two four-year varsity lettermen football players in the history of Fostoria High School, and interestingly enough, to this day there are only seven such individuals with this distinct honor.


He was a shining star in his own right that led to a college scholarship to Ohio University to play the sport he loved. He was deserving of the accolades placed at his feet although those were severed two years short by his draft into the Korean War.




We analyzed the dull and dingy trinkets such as his Varsity ‘O’ pin and the carefully engraved diamond cuff links welcoming him to the Ohio University football program, plus odds and ends that would become the puzzle pieces to his life which would lead to an understanding of my own.


Instead of living his dream of that of a shining football celebrity, my Father went off to war and came back a broken man with shattered ideals disguised in a bottle with the anger of an iron fist and razor-sharp words. What was directed toward his family was really anger at the world beyond his control.


No, that doesn’t excuse his actions nor does it make the events orchestrated by him right, but it’s justification of the fight in me labeled competitiveness and why athletics come easy for me. It’s validation for me why I no longer need to hold onto the self-blame I instigated trying to make my dad happy if only I would have been a more perfect daughter.


What's more, it does provide me with understanding to the window of a man’s soul who wanted more from his life, but received much less.

 
by Lewis B. Smedes

26 comments:

Catherine said...

What a beautiful and honest post Tracy.
Sending you big hugs!
xo Catherine

DoanLegacy said...

This real and raw tribute to your dad, with all emotions included! I'm touched with your honesty!

Betty Manousos@ CUT AND DRY said...

Refreshingly honest post!
I am really touched reading this story.

And thanks so much for the follow. Following right back your lovely blog.

Betty

septembermom said...

What an amazingly honest post. Your heart is very open here. Thank you for sharing with us.

J.L. Campbell said...

Sad, however, the good part is that you now understand what he might have gone through and you've forgiven him.

Hart Johnson said...

I think understanding really is one of the great gifts--often the only one available.

M Pax said...

Understanding is a great gift. Glad you got some.

LTM said...

oh, Tracy. This made me misty. It is good that you were able to have understanding, but there's so much pain wrapped in this story. ((hugs)) to you! <3

Courtney said...

You show your strength and your grace with this post. Maybe that is what these types of life lessons are supposed to provide...I always think so. You are more loving and compassionate because of your experiences...and that is truly a gift.
Much blessings,
Courtney

Out on the prairie said...

Very nicely said. In my thoughts I see him doing what he deemed all he could.It is a hard role for some to be part of.

white flower farmhouse said...

My condolences.

Brian said...

That is quite a story, although memories can haunt, they can also heal, and you're well on your way. Purrs and hugs from all of us.

Seams Inspired said...

Beautiful post, Tracy. Thanks for sharing your heart today.

Muffy's Marks said...

I am sorry, I am sorry for your youth, I am sorry for all the lost fun times, I am sorry for all the missed family times. The disease has no emotions. I am happy for you that you can get past it with understanding, and not letting history repeat itself. (((Hugs))))

Jeanie said...

A very honest and remarkable post Tracy. My dad was also an alcoholic and understanding him has been a challenge in my life. He died when I was 18 so I was left with many questions that I was never able to ask as an adult.

Sylvia K said...

A very remarkable post indeed and I do so relate! My father was also an alcholic and in general my childhood was pretty miserable as an only child. But I did move past that as I grew up and I have no bitterness or anger or hurt for that matter. I think his childhood was about as miserable as mine was, but whatever he's in a better place -- wherever that is and I certainly am as well. Enjoy your weekend.

Sylvia

Kim @ Stuff could... said...

This is a forgiveness of a lot of pain. My father was an alcoholic after I left home. It is a pain to live with, it was for my mom...etc. I am sorry for your pain

Daisy said...

Tracy, you had to go through a lot in order to get where you are today. I'm glad you are in a better spot now. Understanding is indeed a gift.

Julie Harward said...

It's a wonderful thing that God understands all things..maybe when you meet up with your father in the next life he will be all healed and you will get to see him as he really is. God bless you, :D

Dawn said...

What a heartfelt and moving post.
Thank you for sharing with us.

Jan Morrison said...

A wonderful post. I feel a bit raw about dads right now - my own died two months ago. He,too, a victim of a war - WWII in his case - and an alcoholic. He was not at all abusive however - in fact a tremendously kind guy. Wars runin people. They do.
Thanks for coming by my site...

Laura Pauling said...

Wow. To reach a place and let go of anger is amazing. I know it's hard. But holding on only hurts us. At times, we all have to come to terms with the faults in our parents, however extreme. Thanks for sharing.

Bish Denham said...

Truly a touching story. I am glad that in the end you were able to find his humanity and discover some of the reasons for his behavior and were able to forgive.

Siv Maria said...

I loved the quote at the end, saving it for another day. I too went through something similar. Forgiveness and understanding, two gifts we can only give ourselves before we can give them to others. Beautiful, heartfelt post. Thank you.

KathyA said...

I'm so sorry your relationship with your father was such a miserable one. Children deserve better.

Jules said...

Lord, I was depressed before I read this now I movingly depressed. You have such a way of making bad seem good and that my friend is a blessing. :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow