It has been so long since my dad died, that I do not remember ever celebrating his birthday. I do not remember sitting around the table eating a birthday meal, watching him open his gifts, or blowing out his candles. I do not remember much of anything about him.
I do not remember his smell, or his voice. I do not remember his touch –from love or abuse. I do not remember so many pieces of him.
I have one photo of him that was damaged in the house fire. I have nothing else left of him, or his. In his thirty-seven years, there is barely anything left behind to prove his existence.
Except for me, and now my children, who are his grandchildren.
The memories I do have of the short time I was able to spend with him are haunted by abuse, and regret. I witnessed him hurt my mom, and brother, and experienced his abuse first hand. I also have memories of his kindness and love toward others in need.
I remember how intelligent he was, and how he could always come out ahead. He had survival skills like no one I have ever seen before –I like to think that is where I learned to survive through the extremes of abuse I experienced. He was a pro at getting something for nothing.
He was someone you did not mess with, but also someone you went to for help. He had a kind heart, and a lot of love to give. What I remember most is how much he wanted to be loved, and accepted.
He had Paranoid Schizophrenia, and for the longest time I was confused as to who he was. I confused his illness with him, which led to fear. When I was able to separate the two, I was able to see him for who he was. I was able to see all the good he had to offer, and I was able to understand the why behind the bad.
I wish I had more time to get to know my dad. I wish that his life could have been easier for him, and I wish he could have found the true love he had been searching for. I know there was a reason he was my dad, and I am grateful for the lessons I was able to learn from him.
Loving him taught me that people are more than a diagnosis. There are reasons behind many of the things people do. He taught me tolerance, strength and perseverance.
In his memory, I ask that you find someone in need of some extra love, and love them. Talk to them. Learn from them. Give people the gift of your time.
Happy Birthday, Dad.