Tag Archives: daughters

A Tribute to My Father

He was the first man I ever loved. He was wild and dangerous. He was exciting but scary. He had a disarming smile that barely disguised the vile temper that dwelled beneath it. He was a contrast of moods and temperament. He could be the most fun you ever had or your worst nightmare. He was a hard worker who partied even harder. He hung out with hard-core bikers but he also had a strong belief in God. He was either your best friend or your nastiest enemy.

There was never any middle ground with my father.

He was a combination of many personalities. He was a lot like Billy Bob Thornton in Bad Santa but with a twist of Elvis Presley thrown in. He was also very much like Ray Donovan with his secret life and violent streak. There was never any warning when someone was about to feel the sting of his wrath. He wasn’t a big talker so when he snapped and lashed out at someone they were usually astonished. Most times they didn’t even know what they had done to make him angry. It could be as simple and innocent as a look he perceived you were giving him to something someone said that he found disrespectful or distasteful. But then, there was also a side to him that was very much like Dominic Cooper in the new series on TV called Preacher. He tried really hard to walk the line of good and truth. But, then he would get bored or he would meet up with someone from the past and his wild streak would take over.

My mother left us when I was 14 and he took it really bad. They had been fighting for years and she decided she had enough. The problem was that she had left with his best friend. He was outraged by the betrayal and stayed out late at night trying to drink his feelings away. Within a few months we went to live with our mother and her new man. It was awkward and uncomfortable but we didn’t have any other choices. For the next couple of years my father went through women and booze like there was no tomorrow.

Then suddenly, he hooked up with a woman who belonged to the same cult that my parents had joined when I was 5 years old. When they got married a couple of years later, he dropped out of our lives. I tried to reconnect with him over the years but eventually I gave up when I saw how uncomfortable he was because of the way his new wife acted around us. She alternated between ignoring us and being outright rude.

Years went by without hearing anything from him. His family continued to tell him to contact his children and make amends before it was too late. But by then he felt too much time had passed and he was afraid we would reject him. He didn’t handle rejection well.me with jimmy and parents

The call that I had been awaiting for years came on a freezing cold day in February of 2008. We had been out riding on our Harley Davidson when we came home to a voicemail from my uncle and his wife asking me to call back right away. I told my husband that my father was dead. He said it could be a hundred different reasons why they were calling. But I knew! I knew in my heart that he was gone, I could just feel it. But, I made the call and sure enough she said he had died the day sometime during the night. I asked her if he committed suicide. She was horrified and could barely get out the words, “the Jimmy I know would never do that…”. I calmly responded with, “well, the Jimmy that I know, would!”. She gave me the name of the funeral home and quickly got off the phone. I was numb but I wasn’t shocked. I had been there the times he had tried to end his life. He would call me on the telephone and I would go to him, sitting beside him all night, making sure he didn’t die on me. He didn’t reach out to me in the end. I guess he thought it was too late. He must have thought that too much damage had been done for me to forgive him. He was wrong. If he had made that call I would have gone to him. I would have helped him get the help he needed. I would have tried one more time. I would have given him one more chance.

Later, I would find out that he died alone in a room he was renting from a couple who lived in a big house in the same city as me. He had overdosed on the painkillers and psychiatric drugs he was self-medicating with. He had been going to different doctors getting multiple prescriptions and then filling them at different pharmacies.

He was wrapped in a bunch of blankets but he was very cold to the touch. His beautiful face was bloated and distorted.

There was no funeral, no burial, no closure. I went to the funeral home to see him even though his ex-wife (the executrix of the will) said that he didn’t want anyone to see him. The funeral director tried to talk me out of seeing his unprepared body because he said it would traumatize me. I bluntly told him that after years of working in palliative care nothing would shock or scare me. I was taken to a back room (with my loving husband at my side) and he was there in a body bag on a stretcher. He was wrapped in a bunch of blankets but he was very cold to the touch. His beautiful face was bloated and distorted. I talked to him for a couple of minutes and then kissed him goodbye on the forehead.

He is at peace now. He isn’t suffering anymore. But I’m left with more questions than answers. We weren’t included in the reading of the will or given any details about his life leading up to his death. He was cremated and the ashes were given to my grandmother. He is going to be buried with her when she dies. Last year I contacted the Coroner’s office and I was told that I was legally entitled to know everything that was discovered during the death scene investigation. I received the package from the Coroner’s office and found a few surprises. I learned that he had 2 tattoos, which shocked me. He had always been adamant that tattoos were trashy and getting one was equal to defiling your body. Also, he had been under the care of a psychiatrist. Perhaps he had finally tried to slay the demons in his head. Lastly, he died before morning, as he sat on the side of his bed. The last phone call he made had been to his ex-wife. She told the investigators that she knew he was taking lots of different pills and had been depressed, but she denied knowing that he was suicidal. I also found out that he had been excommunicated from the dangerous, mind-control cult he had committed himself to years ago. He was also divorced from the woman who treated us like we were nothing and didn’t matter.  If I had known those  pieces of information sooner I would have absolutely reached out to him one more time. My biggest fear since I was 16 was that he would die before we could make amends. My worst nightmare became a reality on  February 2, 2008.

The only things I have to remember my father by are his cane, an old unopened Elvis Presley calendar and pictures from the past. His ex-wife gave away his belongings to her children even though my brother specifically asked her for his guitar that he carried with him since 1961. His family was outraged by the way we were discarded but were helpless to do anything about it. If he were alive to see all of the changes in the world and all of the corruption and scandals that are finally being exposed, I think he would have had an easier time adjusting to life outside a controlling cult that commanded and demanded that he choose them over his own flesh and blood.

My father’s death forced me to face all of the bad things I had suppressed and repressed for so many years. But, it also showed me who truly cared about me and my family. My father, James or Jim,  would be extremely happy to know how much closer my ties with his biological family have become.

Today, my life has come full circle.

I grew up feeling like an orphan from the time my parents joined a “doomsday” cult when I was 3 and they cut off all family ties to anyone who wasn’t open to joining too. Today, my life has come full circle. I was recently given pictures from my childhood that I have never seen before. It’s been very healing for me to have visual proof that I had lots of people who cared about and loved me when I was a little girl.  It’s great to have the images in my head match the pictures I’ve been given by a thoughtful relative who remembers when we disappeared from their lives.

Sometimes I feel my father’s presence and it comforts me. I don’t know if it’s wishful thinking or if there’s an afterlife but I’m keeping my options open…just in case I get one more chance to see him again and tell him everything I know.

 

An Open Letter To My Dad

Dear Dad,

Communicating with each other has never been a strength of ours, so I’ll just jump right in. We’ve had our fair share of disagreements and for the longest time, I was always the child who had to do what she was told. Sometimes, it’s hard for you to remember that I’ve grown up into an adult now and sometimes, it’s hard for me to remember that you only want what’s best for me. So, thank you. I don’t tell you this enough, but you amaze me. You are so talented with fixing anything around the house which, as a child, didn’t mean much to me. But you were able to use those skills to solve my problems like fixing broken necklaces and even shoes when I was younger! Now I’m able to appreciate your skills and your heart. We don’t say it and we rarely express it, but I am so grateful that you are my dad. I got really lucky. I guess all I really want to say is thank you for always being there, despite our disagreements and despite our lack of communication sometimes. Like most of our conversations, I’ll keep this sweet and short. Thanks dad and I hope you have an amazing father’s day.

Love always,

Evelyn

Father – Daughter Interviews

With Father’s Day just having passed, we decided to celebrate and interview our fathers/step-fathers/father-figures. The fathers were asked to answer the following questions about what it is like exactly to be a dad:

  1. Tell us one thing you want everyone to know about being a Father/Step-Father/Father-figure?
  2. What would you love your daughter to know about you?
  3. Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?
  4. As a Father, Step-Father, or Fatherly influence, what is your biggest worry?
  5. Can you share the best memory or moment – that made you realize….I’m a Father?
  6. What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?
  7. If there was one thing you could tell your wife, or women in general that would make being the Father of a daughter easier – what would that be?
  8. Has having a daughter(s) changed you?  Can you share how?

Mark & Kaelyn:

What would you love your daughter to know about you?

pot picture
Kaelyn and Mark behind a pot Kaelyn worked on for months to give to her dad for Father’s Day.

I would love for my daughter to know that I think about her every second of every minute of every day when I’m away at work.

Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?

Love unconditionally and don’t let unnecessary expectations rule your relationships.

As a Father, Step-Father, or Fatherly influence, what is your biggest worry?

Biggest worry: my child gets sick or hurt.

Can you share the best memory or moment – that made you realize….I’m a Father?

The first time I got to hold you and to this day each time when I get to hug or hold you.

What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?

Teach her to smile and not to take her time so seriously.

If there was one thing you could tell your wife, or women in general that would make being the Father of a daughter easier – what would that be?

Share them equally at all times.

Has having a daughter(s) changed you? Can you share how?

Yes, I have had to look inside myself for better answers to this gift of life.

Gord & Jessica

Tell us one thing you want everyone to know about being a Father?

It is very rewarding when you see your children achieve something that they like.

What would you love your daughter to know about you?

I want my daughter to know that I always want the best for her.

Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through these moments.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, things will always get better.

As a Father, what is your biggest worry?

My biggest worry is that my daughter won’t follow her dreams.

Can you share the best memory or moment that made you realize …I’m a father?

My best memory that made me realize I was a father was looking into her eyes the moment she was born.

What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?

Even though you want to keep your daughter protected and close to you, you have to allow them the space and time to experience everything they want to in life.

James and Mei Mei

Michael and Candice Lee

Tell us one thing you want everyone to know about being a Father/Step-Father/Father-figure?

It’s very important to me as a stepfather that I always treat my stepchildren as well as I do my own.

Sometimes there are those not-so-perfect Fathering moments – what is one piece of advice you can give to help each other through those moments?

The best piece of advice I could give stepparents is to remember to be patient with their new family members.

As a Father, Step-Father, or Fatherly influence, what is your biggest worry?

I want ALL of my kids to be happy in life.

What is the best or most useful piece of advice you can give a new Father of a daughter?

Don’t be so overbearing with your children and stepchildren that you force them to run into someone else’s arms for love and comfort.

 

Motherhood

As the month of May winds down, and our weekly posts touch on this month’s topic of Motherhood, I’d like to offer my take on Motherhood.

Pondering this topic of motherhood, I had a hard time deciding on an angle of approach – I have a mother, two actually if I count my mother-in-law, (and I do) and I am a mother.  So after much thought, inspiration hit me while I was running one morning….I’m going to the experts…..children, mine to be specific.  After all who better to tell me what kind of Mother I am then my own kids, since they are the recipients of my being their Mother (although I prefer the term Mom).

Here’s the loaded questions I asked my two daughters (ages 23 and 25), by text so they didn’t have to hide their initial reaction and their response (by text).

the girlsQuestion # 1 – On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate me as your Mother.

Response to Above loaded Questions:

Emilee:  A little background first – the youngest of my two daughters, Em is in my motherly opinion, a wildly creative artist, seeker of justice and vocal advocate for those less fortunate, possessor of an off-beat sense of humour and gentle soul.   Not only is she my daughter, she is my fashion-sense, sounding board, biggest support, my champion, one of my best-friends.  I love her to bits!

Answer by text: “I’d rate you as…….hmmm….well a 9.  Nobody is perfect but I still believe you did your best and I appreciate that you were able to  give me the life skills needed to be able to be successful on my own.  We’ve been through tough times here and there and you’ve always been there for me when I needed advice or a friend 🙂 I’m grateful to have a mother like you”.

Mom Comment to Rating: This response surprised me, Emilee and I share a very easy, open relationship, so it shouldn’t have….but it did.  She made me cry.

 Arlee: A little background first – my firstborn and it was her misfortune that she did not come with an instruction manual for me, Arl, in my motherly opinion, is amazingly strong, resilient and adaptable, she bravely goes where no one else dares and does this with a grace and charm that is so difficult to explain, you just feel it when you are in her company.  She has a special way of making everyone feel so very important to her.  Not only is she my daughter, she is my inspiration, my fashion-sense, my dose of reality from time to time, one of my biggest supporters and toughest critic, I am grateful to count her as one of my very few best-friends.  I love her to bits!

Answer by text: “I’m not gonna rate you as a mother.  LOL cause sometimes you’re above a ten and other times I could rate you pretty low. Haha”

Mom Comment to Rating  (or lack thereof): This response did not surprise, nor offend me, it is exactly the type of honesty Arlee and I can share and trust me, it took us a while to get to this place.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Question #2 – What’s the one piece of advice I’ve given that you follow?

Arlee: Best Advice (to date):

“Date a lot.  Experience different personalities, see what’s out there and you’ll know what works for you.  I dated a lot … And certain I found my guy now.  Sure glad I didn’t stick with the first one.”

Mom Comment to Advice:  Although it makes me sound bad, it was presented to her with a lot more context.  I’m so happy she took it, since we are all glad that she didn’t stick with the first one!

Emilee: Best Advice (to Date):

“Well it wasn’t anything in particular…you’ve helped me think more clearly when I’ve been upset about something and have helped me make rational decisions”.

Mom Comment to Advice: Nice, apparently all the advice I thought I was giving her…didn’t sink in at all.  Yet those times I spent with her while she worked through a situation, I was wishing I could get her one of our Women’s Advocates to help, because they are so great with the women we serve – I was actually helping her after all, again, Nice.

And now my turn.

Big hugs and thank you, to my daughters Emilee and Arlee whoThreegirlsA2 in spite of my very best and less than stellar moments still call me their Mom and answer all my crazy questions and requests for endless volunteer hours in support of the YW! Love you both, forever and yes, I haven’t forgotten that you agreed to sleep in your car alongside me at No Fixed Address this year!

A special shout out to my Mom, Hallie Ruth – Thank you for blazing a trail, enabling me to think independently, make my own mistakes and for celebrating with me as I triumphed over them, and for giving me the strength, courage and wicked sense of humour that I admire so much in you.  I enjoy immensely playing the part of Ethel to your Lucy – even today.  Still going strong at 82, thank you for a great childhood, I feel very blessed.

To Joy, my mother-in-law, thank you for allowing me to be the daughter you never had, it is an honour I wear proudly, for sharing your insights on your son whom we both love so much, for our shopping excursions, and for making me feel special every day.  I am so very grateful to have you in my life.

And to all the women, in my life that at some point in my journey past, present and future, have provided me with motherly wisdom, insight, the occasional dose of reality and hugs….you know who you are, thank You, and don’t stop.

Happy Mother’s Day….month!  Women this special deserve more than a day.