April 1, 2008

A Father on a Diffrent Path

I remember when I was a kid I really did think much about not really having my birth father around. I had my adopted dad Hadyn, he adopted me when I was 5. But, him and my mom divorced a few years later. So, I spent most of my life with my mom, Sally.
She was a great mother, she always did whatever it took to take care of me and my sister. Recently I came back into contact with my birth father Jim. At first all I wanted to do was yell at him and tell him how much he'd missed because he left. Yet, the thing I find myself realizing, as a father myself, is the regret and anger he must already feel for himself. He "gave up" my sister, mother and I twice, both times because of alcohol.
The first time was when I was three, so I don't remember a lot about him or our life. Him and my mom remarried again when I was about 10, and left again when I was 11. This time I got a front row seat to how alcohol can effect the lives of children living with alcoholics. I remember having to carry him to bed, he'd passed out on the toilet, the tears he would cry because he was so sorry, and the next day he'd be right back at the bar after work.
The fonder memories are of walking with him, riding on his motorcycle together, and feeling that sense of being "like" your parent. It wasn't meant to last though, I know that now. I learned from him how not to be a father and a person.
Another thing I picked up is the disgust for alcohol and everything associated with it. I stay clear of alcohol, the realization that his alcoholic genes are in me is a big turn down for that. In the past I used to think his life was a wasted one, but even he served his purpose. Now I only hope that I can be a good father and that my wife and kids can know my father. It's important that your kids know their family.
I understand in a lot of situations that this isn't possible and I'm grateful for the little contact I have with him. There are plenty of situation where the parent is a junky or just can't give up the bottle. The influence on the kids and the general atmosphere of a parent like that, it makes sense to want to keep your distance.
My father, thankfully, gave it up and has been sober for 6 years now. He lives in Illinois, so I don't get to see him, I only get to talk to him on the phone once in a while.
I know the lesson of this situation though, besides the ones mentioned earlier, about life and how to live it. Appreciate the people around you and that they love you, be the kind of parent who lets their kid/kids know everyday that you love them, and most importantly, be there for your kids when they want you to be; they need you and, lets face it, you need them.