On Failing Our Fathers

Official Portrait of President Ronald Reagan.
Image via Wikipedia

cid_251-copyThis is a re-post by request.

The Difficulty With Daughters was heavily commented on.  If you haven’t read it, please do.  While some found the story interesting or emotional, most comments were of a personal nature.  I have long subscribed to the theory that the relationship between a father and daughter is a very sacred one. My philosophy is this; whether a woman knows her father for one day, one lifetime, or not at all, it affects your relationship with the world forever.  This could also be said about the relationship between father and son but I believe it is particularly so with women.  If we are fortunate, a father’s voice is the first voice we ever hear and a father’s philosophies echo throughout our childhood.  If we are unfortunate, his is a voice we never hear and that resonant silence lingers throughout our adulthood. When I was very young, perhaps six or seven, my father told  me this,

“No “explicative” will ever treat you as well as your father does, Shereese.  Don’t forget that and don’t settle for less than that.”

I remember that conversation as if it took place just yesterday but what I took from it has had good and bad implications in my life.  Forever it seemed, my father could do no wrong but I’m also painfully aware that my father was probably unfaithful for my parent’s entire marriage.  As a teenager I resented my father’s indiscretions and bad behavior.  The  behaviors of which I had grown up so blissfully unaware became reasoned excuses for my rebellion.  The demise of my parent’s relationship also marked the demise of my relationship with my father.  For most of my young adult life, my father and I did not speak.  By Christmas, following my twenty-fifth birthday, my father was dead.  I did have the opportunity to resolve my issues with my father prior to his death although this admission may come as a surprise to my siblings.  While my father may have been a very bad husband, what I know now is this:

My parent’s fidelity or infidelity and the effect it had on their relationship had nothing to do with my relationship with either one of them.  In my own relationships with men, the experience of having heard about my father’s behavior from my mother has caused me not to easily trust.

My father, for as long as I can remember always tried to make my birthdays special.  He told me that birthdays meant more to girls than they did to boys but that a boy should never forget a girl’s birthday.  He also taught me  the value of political knowledgeRonald Reagan was my hero, not because he was the greatest leader ever, but because following his presidency taught me how to lead and made me feel intelligent. My father was the first person to tell me to stay off my knees.  “no man will marry a girl with dark knees,” he said.  To this day, I believe him (thank God for knee pads).  From my father I inherited a conservative set of values.  I believe that instilling those values in my own kids has made them more disciplined although also very outspoken.    I inherited my father’s cynical sense of humor; it has helped me weather the most difficult of personal storms. My father always told me that I was his favorite and that he knew I was going to be president.  He said not to let anybody tell me that I wasn’t smarter, or faster, or prettier.  Even on the days when I don’t feel any of those things, I can still look at myself in the mirror and smile at God’s creation.  These days I’m left to wonder if I’m achieving all that my father saw in me when I  was but a twinkle in his eye.  I wonder if he feels that I have taken care of my heart, not letting any man hurt me or if he feels that I have missed out for never having fallen in love foolishly.  I wonder if he believes my children are resemblances of him and his charm or of me and my shyness.  I wonder at times if my father feels that I am happier because of his involvement in my childhood or sadder because of the lack of his presence in my adulthood.

Most days I’m simply resigned.  I’m resigned to the idea that  however my father and I related to one another near or far, we loved.  While stubbornness and circumstance were formidable opponents, we healed.  While my relationship with him in his death is healthier than it was when he was alive, I’ve learned.  Most days I think he still wants the best for me and I miss him.



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