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Old Man

You sonofabitch. Do you have any idea how many times I've said "I wish you could have met my father?" I've said it to friends, girlfriends, my wife, my girls - your granddaughters that you didn't bother to stick around for. To the others, who knew you only briefly, I've said, "I wish you could have got to know him better." What was so interesting in that bottle that it was more important than being Grampa Paul?

If you had been a dumb fat fuck, nobody would have missed you. People would have nodded their heads in mock sympathy and said, "He's in a better place now." But you were a bright fat fuck. You had ideas. You inspired people. Remember when you started the company softball team? We were proud to wear those t-shirts, no matter how badly we lost, and we always lost. We had fun, and that was all your fault.

Remember Lily and Fritz from up here? I run into Lily in the village sometimes. Yesterday she told me I walk like you. It's been 30 years since she last saw you, and she remembers how you walked. Who leaves that kind of impression on people? A few years ago, I saw Aunt Belle not long before she died. She had no idea who I was, but when I said "I'm Paul's son," she looked up and whispered "Paul?" with what was left of her feeble voice. I said, "No, I'm not Paul - I'm Paul's son," and she looked away. As far as anybody knows, your name was the last word she ever spoke.

So why'd you do it? What was so terrible about your world that you couldn't face it with all your wonderful wits about you? Why was it that every time you started to get somewhere, every time you began to achieve success in whatever you were doing, you dove back into that bottomless vat of vodka? What the hell were you so afraid of?

Now that I'm almost older than you ever were, it's a bit funny to me that I used to call you "old man;" it brings a smile when my girls call me that. Then a tear, knowing you would have had them call you the same thing. Saddest is that we will never know what you would have called them, only that it wouldn't have been their given names.

Not so funny is that my last words to you were "Call me back when you're sober." And you weren't even drunk that time. Of all the words I've ever said to anybody, those are the ones I wish I could take back. I'm sorry, old man. But much sorrier that you never called me back.
  

16 comments:

Amber said...

Oh, Legacy.

I could have written this same post four years ago to MY father. It is because of the intense regret I knew I would feel, that I reached out to him and forgave him for all the terrible thing she did to me and my family.

He is sick now. Two types of cancer, he doesn't get out much anymore. I clean his house for him, do his grocery shopping, and imagine in the next couple of years will be doing more.

I hate that you would live with any type of regret for not reaching out. Some people will tell you that he should have been the one. And maybe....maybe he should have, but I have come to the realization that some people are just not strong enough to do that. And being the selfish person I can be sometimes, I didn't want to have to feel regret, so I did the work.

And do you know what.....it paid off. In the four years since I reached out to my old man, we have rebuilt an amazing relationship that rivals the one we had when I was growing up, and was his "little Rosie".

I don't want this comment to make you feel any worse than you may feel now. I just want you to know that I know what you are going through. And even if I am not in the threads as much as I used to be, doesn't mean I don't think about you often and just want to make you feel comforted.

If I can do that, then this comment was worth it.

Anonymous said...

This is my favorite of your posts. It has so much emotion, emotions that I can relate to.

Thank you for sharing.

French Bean & Coffee Bean said...

I can relate to your emotions, Legacy.

-French Bean

DanWins said...

Wow,

.......I'm at a total blank......

I think you know me well enough by now that..... well, I always have "Something" to say....

All I can say is -- Very thought provoking and sincere! Thanks

Diane said...

Very powerful. I don't know what to say. I cried.

Mrs Midnite said...

Great post Legacy. I always find it strange that there are a lot of bright, interesting and inspiring people who withdraw from the world through various means.

Mr Midnite has a slightly similar story, he hadn't seen his dad in years when he died suddenly, whenever I have a fight or get annoyed with my parents he reminds me not to leave it with harsh words just in case.

Sotepop said...

Amazing.

Kate said...

Wonderful. Painful and beautiful. I'm sorry for the loss...his, yours, everyone's.

I understand that pain as well.

The CivILLian said...

That was amazing Legacy. Quite penetrating. I can only empathize so I can't say that I feel the pain, but I know it hurts. And if ever a form of comfort (if it has not yet arrived) comes to soothe you in this day, I pray that you'd be able to take it, so long as it isn't detrimental to you in anyway worse than what you've already experienced.

just a brown-eyed girl said...

Jeezus, Legacy. I bet that felt good.

Legacy2000 said...

Happy Birthday, old man.

emerald said...

(hugs)

Legacy2000 said...

Happy Father's Day, old man.

Ashkieee said...

Very strong and powerful words Legacy. My father is a very bright man too, but he is selfish as fuck. He doesn't care about me or my sister or my mom. He could have $30K in the bank right this minute but if I needed help paying off school, I wouldn't hear the end of it. When I was young, I used to wish that he did drink or have an affair or something else I could blame for his shortcomings. I spent years thinking why, looking for an excuse. I never understood him, his philosophy on life, and I probably never will.

JAWS said...

My condolences.My father was selfish as well, but not with the bottle. He preferred cigarettes and sugar. Had he listened to his doctors he would still be with us today healthy as ever. He preferred instead to defy everything warned to him and go out fighting.

Legacy2000 said...

The thought of you at 75 is completely foreign to me. Happy Birthday, I guess.