Today is a bitter sweet day for me. It's my Daddy's birthday. He would have been 71. But he died at 52 on Christmas Eve. He met my oldest once. He was so weak I had to lift her onto his lap so he could holder her. He never met my youngest. It makes me so sad that they didn't get to know him.
My Dad was an alcoholic all my life. Once, when I was about 11 or 12 his job made him go to AA. He was sober for about 3 or 4 months. It was nice. He would go grocery shopping with us and even offer to help me with homework. But then his "friends" made fun of him. And he started drinking again. After that, he didn't stop and things went down hill from there.
When I was a little girl he would play with me. Drunk as he would be sometimes, he would play with me. I loved it when he would spin me in circles. I was never afraid that he'd hit my head on something. How a drunk man didn't get dizzy and drop me or hurt me...still makes me scratch my head in wonder. He would carry me on his shoulders or he'd get on all fours and let me "ride" on his back so he could tuck me in at night. He would play hide and seek with me. I can't remember when it was that things changed.
I remember a night when I was about 3 or 4. I had these blue canvas sneakers with the white rubber across the toes that were marked "left" and "right". They had ABC's and 123's on the sides. I remember my mother scooping me up, grabbing those sneakers and rushing out the door to get away from him. We walked around the neighborhood, not returning until she was sure he was asleep. I remember we crept up the stairs in the hall listening...then we heard his snores and knew it was safe.
I don't have many happy memories because he was always drunk when he came home from work. I mostly remember him yelling in Polish. Him being too drunk to take off his shoes, so I was told to do it.
When he got sick and ended up in the hospital, I thought I'd get a second chance with him. A chance for us to have the relationship that alcoholism stole from us. I had planned to bring him to live with me. But then, while in the hospital, he had a heart attack or something. I just remember the doctor saying they cracked his chest and worked on him for 45 minutes to no avail. So alcoholism stole even our second chance.
I miss my Dad. I miss what could have been. I miss that we didn't get a chance to be the father/daughter we should have been. I miss that he didn't get to see his granddaughters grow up. It sucks that we got cheated out all that. I am grateful that I forgave him and told him so months before he died. I'm grateful that he knew I didn't hate him. I just hope he's been able to find the peace I know he didn't have here in this life.