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Not the Father I Desired

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Father's Day Reflections on Grief, Forgiveness & Gratitude

Father and daughter

Father’s Day. This is a day that I have struggled with in the past.

My father was not the father I wished him to be. I was estranged from him for three years before he passed away in September of 2020.

I was by his bedside before he died, and we were able to say the things that needed to be said. I never stopped loving my father, but I also had to set some boundaries. He disappointed me many times as a child and as an adult. Once he started to disappoint my children, I walked away.

My father passed away almost a week ago now. Thursday was a very intense day, but magical in so many ways.

When I returned to the hospital Thursday evening after everyone had left, my father asked who I was. He was agitated, not making sense. I placed my hands on his chest, closed my eyes, and called in support from my ancestors, my sisters, and my angels, and I could sense them gathering around us. I truly believe they gave my father the ability to have a voice to speak so we could have the conversations we needed, and that they made him even more aware of my presence. When I left, he was sitting up, eating an ice cream bar, and watching TV!!

I had a chance to sit with him on my own. It is sad to say, but those few hours were the first time in a long time I felt close to my father. He had never been comfortable with our relationship, never quite knew how to interact with me. I have some beautiful memories with him, but few where it was just the two of us.

During those final hours I had the ability to really connect and show him the love and compassion I felt for him. At one point he looked at me in wonder. I don’t think he quite understood why I kept staring at him in such a loving way.

I held his hand, touched him in an affectionate way, and told him how much I loved him and that I had never stopped loving him. His last words to me were, “I did the best job I could.”

“I know,” I replied. “That is all I could ask from you.” I gave him a hug and kiss.

When I finally left, I blew him a kiss and he did the same. I don’t remember if he said “I love you,” but he showed it with his eyes and the tight grip he had on my hand.

I returned Friday, and he was not conscious. I didn’t see his beautiful blue eyes, but I knew he heard me. For the first hour, I sat in silence and let him rest, as he was in a deep sleep. The second hour, his snoring stopped, and I spoke to him nonstop. I told him again how much I loved him, and he raised his brows. I told him it was okay to let go, and I listed everyone that came to see him. I talked about whatever came to my mind while I stroked his shoulder and expressed my love. I didn’t hold his hand as I knew he was in pain and didn’t want to hurt him.

He died less than an hour after I left.

— Posted to Facebook on September 24, 2020 to my sisterhood group.

Tears come to my eyes as I reflect on what I wrote and relive those hours before my father’s passing. I have thought of my father often in the last year and a half. I have honoured him during my travels and feel at peace with our relationship.

He was a beautiful person and storyteller (an entertainer), but not the father I wanted him to be. He was an alcoholic, but a sweet one. He was never violent or mean. I now understand him as someone who was wounded and who drank to cope with life. I was never able to see this before, as I was too angry. I have processed my childhood wounds around my father and will continue to do that work. Forgiveness towards him and myself has brought me gratitude for the lessons I have learned and will continue to learn.

I have no regrets; I just wish we could have been closer, and that he could have gotten to know me.

I was given a gift the day my father died. I received a hug from my son like no other. Here was a grown man who did not hold back giving his mother the embrace she needed. The support and love I felt was nothing like anything I experienced with a man before, and it came from my son. I am happy that he is so comfortable in who he is that he could give me what I needed in that moment.

I may not have received it from my father, but I have a son who has grown into this beautiful soul who is changing our ancestral patterns for the better.

If you are grieving the relationship you didn't have with a parent who has passed, remember that healing doesn't end with death. I have learned that a relationship that could not be mended during a parent’s lifetime is the same after they die. The good news is, we can choose to heal on our own.

When my father was alive, I couldn’t get past the wounded child that wanted more. Since he has died, I have been able to see him as a human doing the best job he could. We can either accept this realization or remain stuck in the “if only” mindset.

I chose to cherish the fond memories and hold onto the love that has never died.

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