Sunday, December 28, 2014

Published 9:00 AM by with 2 comments

Understanding The Imperfections Of My Father

Understanding the imperfections of my father | Yes, We Rise

I’ve been thinking about my daddy more than usual lately. I especially think of him from Christmas Eve 2000. He was adjusting the lights on my nana’s Christmas tree. I gave him a big hug and kiss telling him that I would see him in the new year as I was traveling for the holiday. He said okay, a little disappointed but lovingly. Looking back I often wonder if through his tight, lingering hug, he was trying to tell me something. Maybe that "I wish you were staying here for Christmas" or "Merry Christmas, I love you more than you know". My mind settles on him trying to tell me that he was leaving maybe. That hug was the last I received from him alive. My daddy died of a drug overdose on January 3, 2001. He was 57 years old .

He was a complex man; attentive and doting to me. A snazzy, meticulous, well-groomed man. Tall and handsome even in his worn, old age. A great debater and conversationalist. Moody and cocky, surprisingly shy but the life of the “right” party. A scholar, a veteran…. an alcoholic and illicit drug user.

In the end it was a bad crack cocaine and a prescription pill habit that caused him to slip away from me before I had the chance to tell him things. Before I could let him know that I understood things that he told me I wouldn’t understand until I was older. Older came and he left before I could let him know that I understood his pain. I knew his loneliness. I knew his looming feelings of inadequacy and shame for crimes he had not even committed. I knew his awkwardness and feelings of being misunderstood, always trying to connect but having frayed ends that never seemed to transmit the right message.

One day I told him I wished that someone else could have been my father. That day I learned something that has stuck with me all of these years and was one of the biggest reality checks ever. He told me that no matter how much I wished that I had a different father, without him there would be no me; that only he and my mother could make the person of me; that the father is the parent that determines the sex of the baby. My adolescent arrogance wanted to argue some point with him, but I couldn’t because I was speechless. It took me years to accept that he was right. Intellectually, I could confirm that he was correct. Personally and emotionally, I rebelled against what I had seen from my father being half of my makeup. I didn’t have the ability to separate the person of my father from his addiction. They were one in the same to me and I hated him for it.

It was years later as I began to try to find my place in the world, that I realized that life was hard and that it would take more than being smart, attractive and articulate to withstand the pressures of life. I recalled discussions with my dad when I would ask him why he seemed so sad or why he got high. He always told me that it was complicated, again that I would understand when I got older. As I said earlier, I got older but I never shared with him that I was beginning to understand . My daddy never told me that he was depressed, but looking back now I see all the symptoms and lifestyle decisions that say that he was. Along with big, bright eyes, an appreciation of a good intellectual debate and these unfortunate big, feet I believe that through genetics and environment I probably inherited a predisposition to depression from my father.

This is a tribute of sorts to my daddy. My blogging name, Jamesgirl is a nod toward him. I’d like for him to know that I’m older and I certainly do understand; that I’m sorry that he experienced so much pain and couldn’t find more restorative support for it in his lifetime. I’d want him to know that although I have also struggled with depression, I’m fighting back and not struggling anymore. I’d like him to know that my plan is to expose depression destigmatizing it and helping free others to be open to get help and be helpful to those that suffer. I call it turning on the light. I’d want him to know that I wished that I could have turned on the light for him, but instead now I have found the courage to write and hopefully turn the light on for others. I’d lastly like to tell him that I’m grateful that he’s the one who got the chance to choose that I would be me, big feet, depression and all. 

Love you Daddy.

** Jamesgirl **


  1. A lot of sons and daughters can relate to this story. We look at our fathers as someone who can't do no wrong in there eyes and if they only knew that they hurt and they can never live up to what his kids perceive him to be. It's only when we're older and have kids of our own that we realize that our kids put us on that same pedal and then we feel that sense of imperfections. Great story

  2. Thank you Teresa, thank God that with age comes wisdom in the best cases.