Today we took a family day and went into the city. We took the kids to lunch at a nice deli, and then for a walk along the river to hit up the candy stores. We had a wonderful day. But, on the way there we were listening to the radio... I don't know what station or program it was because my husband changed it and it wasn't one of my pre-sets. They were talking about fathers. There were two stories in particular that really got me thinking. The first was a girl who talked about a letter she'd gotten from her father, written before he passed away. She said it was the most sincere thing he'd ever said to her. The other was from a man who'd lost his father as a boy, and how now as an adult and parent he tried to look at things from what must have been his father's perspective.
It got me thinking about my own father. I've noted in the past that we don't have a relationship at all, really. There were plenty of "I love yous", but incidents over the years led me to doubt the sincerity of his words. I think the most sincere thing my father ever told me happened when I was 13 years old.
Dad had called me out and told me that there was some venison that had gone bad in the kitchen and to take it over to my grandfather's house next door and feed it to his animals (he had various cats and chickens around the property). I went out, found the bag, and did as I was asked. When I got home my dad was livid. He'd neglected to tell me there were two bags, one rotten and the other fresh and marinating. He threw the rotten bag of meat to me and made me take that one out. I got yelled at pretty good, I was upset and crying as I did the chore.
When I came back he'd mellowed out, apologized and told me he loved me. Then he told me something else, something I don't think he ever told any of my other siblings. I don't even know if he told my mother. We've never talked about it. He said, back in the late 70's when he'd gotten out of active duty Army he had had a girlfriend. She'd gotten pregnant and aborted their baby. She never told him until after it was all over. He said that at the time he didn't know why it was wrong, he just knew that somehow it wasn't right. It devastated him. He went home to his room and cried and cried. That child would have been about 2 years older than I am. I forget exactly how he made the transition from that to this next part, but he went on to tell me that sometimes when he got angry, especially with my aunt and uncle who lived next door, he thought about that baby. He thought about how difficult it had been for him to provide for our large family, and how easy it was for my aunt and uncle. That made him angry and jealous.
I told Matt about what I was thinking in the car today. I'd told him that story before, but he hadn't realized how young I was. I cried when I retold it today. I don't know if it was for me or for Dad. Maybe both of us. I'm still not really sure Dad understood the root of what he was telling me. I'm not sure I am. The most sincere thing I think my father ever told me wasn't how much he loved me, but of the gut wrenching grief he experienced when he found out that that woman had killed their child.