Updated: Mar 2
A beautiful thing the last couple of years brought me is a deeper relationship with my father.
My father and I had a very complex relationship. After my mother died in 1991, my relationship with my father was colored heavily by blame, guilt, emotional withholding, unexpressed anger, and spite. There was no room to talk about my mother, and there was a lot of disconnect between us. Years went by when we did see each other, but conversations didn't break the surface of "How is your work?" or "How are things at home?"
I missed my father. I missed the man that took me on trips with our boat and let me steer. I missed the father that would be there if I came home after a hard day at school.
Slowly these memories started to fade, and what was left was the memory of a bitter, emotionally absent man. Memories that stayed were those of fights between my mother and him, or those of my father not being there when I most needed him, the missing hands on my back, and the lack of comforting words when I failed.
in 2009, when I started to work on myself, I also saw what kind of son I became, responding from those remaining memories. I began to see who I was and in which image I kept my father captured in. So 12 years ago, I told my father for the first time that I loved him.
Those words were not spoken in our household when I was young, and my father had difficulty digesting them that day. I managed to translate his answer: "That's how it is supposed to be." into: "I love you too, my son!".
The last year my father's partner has been struggling with Alzheimer's, and the love I see from my father towards her is almost enchanting. The man has so much patience and care and seems to be an infinite well of love. I can't believe that I didn't see this before.
Looking at my father caring for his partner slowly brings up loving memories of him. The memories of him loving his family, seeing and supporting me, his eternal thrive on giving us the life we have enjoyed so much being young. The days away with him, doing what we both loved to do.
I also started to understand his love language. My father never expressed his love with affection or any emotion, but he expressed his love by giving us what we needed. We never came short of anything.
Looking at him now, I see a beautiful man with many qualities. Qualities that he passed on to me during our life together. Qualities that I can be proud of.
I love that man, and he loves me even though I will probably never hear those words.
You don't have to say them, dad, I know... I love you too, dad...