Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

40 Year Forgiveness For My Father

To quote Lizzo, “it’s about damn time.”

In over the span of a week, I got to experience two of the greatest milestones of being a Dad, graduation. My oldest daughter graduated from both her art program at the tech school that she attended, and of course, her high school. I am pretty sure that I was making more of a big deal about the pending ceremonies than she was. But I could tell, she knew things were about to change.

From the first note of the processional to the pronouncement of the completion of their education, my eyes were trained solely on my daughter. She would make a great poker player, as she does not often show emotion. But I could see it on her face, today was one of the happiest days in her short life. At each ceremony, as her name was called out, I felt the overwhelming emotion pour over me at the moment.

She did it.

She now enters the next stage of her life, and will quickly come to realize what I meant when I repeatedly told her to “stay a kid for as long as you can.”

Though these evenings were all about her, I wrote just a week ago, that I struggled with an issue since my graduation nearly forty years ago, the fact that my father had not attended my graduation, after a childhood I felt filled with absentee disappointments by my father, one after another. It was an actual struggle to keep my focus on my daughter, and not the actions of my father.

There is no escaping the reality of these evenings for me as a father, and preventing my daughter from having the feelings of loss like I lived with most of my life. My struggling health, issues related to the divorce, and even a pandemic were all things that stood in my way of these moments. But the strongest thing I could not get over, was that one night in June of 1983. My determination not to let the same thing happen to my daughter drove me the most to get to this night.

I cannot help but feel, though my father has long since passed, he was watching over his granddaughter, with the pride that I am sure he would have had for me, and that he played a role somehow with us getting to this point.

It was then that I realized, I need to, and I wanted to, forgive my Dad.

There is a difference between forgiveness and forgetting. To forget something, is to have no memory of it, as if it never happened. And most often the case, the reason we do not forget something, is because we do not want to forgive. I will not say that it was foolish for me to have carried this with me nearly four decades, because the hurt was real. And while I do wish this could have been resolved before my father passed away, it was this moment, that I felt an enormous weight lifted from my heart, and I know that it was my Father accepting my forgiveness.

So, on to the next chapter for my daughter, my younger daughter coming up the next year. My health issues will continue. I have proven my status as a reliable Father of a divorce to the only people that matter, my daughters. And clearly we will be dealing with the pandemic much longer, and I have learned to survive through that as well.

Not just the next chapter for my daughter, but now, on to the next chapter for me as Dad.

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