I miss my Dad.... Every. Single. Damn. Day.
If you know me then you know that my Dad and I never had the normal 'father/son' relationship that so many of you out there enjoy with your fathers and so when I see the young men that I coach struggle with the dynamics of this important relationship I share with them stories from own personal struggle. First off, my Dad was a great provider for his family and he worked hard on a production line at Ford Motor Company spray painting whatever came down the line. This was at a time of very little work place safety and I know my Dad inhaled enough lead paint to kill him several times over. He also grew up in a rough time in an even rougher city, the East Side of Detroit. He shared few stories but when he did they involved alcohol, mischief, and the beatings of so called discipline he'd get when he got caught. Unfortunately when that's what you're taught that's what you share...my Dad was quick tempered with the beatings he'd give me. Not saying I didn't deserve punishment but I did not ever deserve to be beaten like I was leaving me with marks all over my body but at this time in the world that was seen as punishment and folks concluded that I must be a bad kid. I remember that was the reason I was given when I was kicked out of Boy Scouts. I also remember finally getting into a basketball game in the 6th grade. I was so excited when Coach called my name I stripped off my warm ups and ran to the scorer's table when Coach called me back and said to put my warm ups back on, you see I had done something wrong I don't remember what it was but my Dad had taken his weightlifting belt to me and I had so many belt marks on my body that the Coach concluded 'I must be a bad kid'. Unfortunately there are too many memories of no one protecting me, no one asking me what was going on at home or I could have shared with them the drunken bastard I tried to escape every weekend. Not my teachers in school, not the coaches in the CYO where I played sports, not my Pastor at church, not the cops I came in contact with, not our neighbors, not my own family, not anyone.....so maybe I was just a bad kid who deserved the beatings that I got.
My mom finally had enough and left but that's other story. My dad continued to drink until one day driving his drunk ass home he got in a car wreck and talked his way out of it with his old Detroit Police ID, yep he had been a Detroit Cop at one time until he had seen enough. Anyways, he was woken to the sound of the Baptist Church next door, a sound he complained about waking him up on Sunday mornings only this time he didn't complain he got up looked at himself in the mirror and was disgusted at the man looking back. He cleaned himself up and walked next door and asked God to forgive him and was Baptized that day and from that day forward my Dad never touched another drop of alcohol again and became a man of great faith believing in the same Bible he once told me was the most beautiful piece of fiction ever written. I still carry the Bible he gave me while I in the Army and was getting ready to go deep undercover and he also helped me understand my feelings from having shot and killed a person in the line of duty.
With the help of my wonderful wife Sally over the years my Dad and I slowly repaired our relationship. I worked hard to set aside my anger of him rarely being there for me to accepting the man he was and the man he was working to become and one day I decided to forgive him and put it all behind us. I loved and looked forward to his and Carol's visits to Texas. Some of the funnest times was watching him and Sally interact. I love my Dad dearly and I miss him so much that some days it just hurts inside. Those days I hold tight the Bible he gave me and reflect on the good and caring man he was. Unfortunately, 4 years ago the battle against his demons got to be too much as he had injured his hip and was getting no relief from the doctors. He was afraid to loose his battle and fall backwards into the bottle so he decided that his only option was to take his own life.
So many memories both bad and good so I choose to think about the good and I share the bad as a lessons in overcoming and forgiveness. So those of you who's Dads have always been there PLEASE give them a thank you and some love.