One Year Later: The Anniversary of My Father’s Death

I tried to do this one year ago. I couldn’t even make it one paragraph. I always thought this would be easier to deal with and write, than it has been. For those who are close to me, or grew up with me; you know that me and my father were not close.

We had our moments of getting along, sure, but it wasn’t a perfect upbringing. I’m going to state right now that my thoughts may be a little jumbled here, as I attempt once again to just get my thoughts out. I just need to finally do this. What better day, than today, on the one year anniversary of my father’s death?

I’m also not going to bash my father or speak negatively about him here. I did that plenty when he was alive. That was the type of relationship we had, though. He did things I didn’t believe in, or want to become myself, as I grew up. In fact, I lost friendships because I purposely hid from a certain lifestyle. That was my father’s, and I did not want that to become mine. This is our story, and I just want to get this out. I need to.

Like father, like son. His way of life did become my way of life. I became that which I swore off. I became a monster, in my own mind and in my actions. If anything, I may have been worse. I don’t know. We’re always our harshest critic, and never give ourselves enough credit.

I am my father in every way. He was, I am assuming, a kind man who had good intentions. He didn’t have his father to go to for advice, or show him the ropes, once all of us kids (there are five of us) were born. In terms of guidance, and raising us kids, my mom did everything. He wasn’t the one to do so, nor did he have a father since my birth. And being the little hellions we turned into, I don’t blame him one bit.

In fact, I give him credit. He stuck around. He went to work every, single, day. He may have “had it up to here” or told us “to bring it” on a daily basis, but he stayed. He provided. He absolutely gave us land, a yard to play in, pushed me in sports, and tried to tell me what I was good at in life and to go after.

I just never listened. That’s how I’ve always been. Stubborn, just like him. We never apologized to one another. We never hugged, or told one another we loved each other. We didn’t shake hands or give praise. We just went about our days, our games in basketball or baseball.

My father was stuck in his own ways, in his own mind, until the bitter end. That’s how I have been. That’s how I still can be. We both knew better. We both wanted better. We both could have been (or still can be, speaking on myself) better. If there is one thing he showed me and taught me, through his way of life and actions, it’s that to not be like him, but still be like him.

This sounds confusing, but looking back, I get it now. I get it dad. I do. If anything, you taught me to be tough. You taught me to not give a shit what people think. You taught me that a man has to stand on his own two feet; and face whatever consequences one faces. I’ve done plenty of crime in my life, and am always willing to do that time. Sometimes I do (or have) and sometimes I don’t.

I will always be the first one to take the blame. I will always be the first one to volunteer. I will do whatever I have to do in life, to make others better. In a way, my father sacrificed his own happiness and life, to make sure me and my siblings had every opportunity. Now, I know those are not mutually exclusive thoughts; meaning, one does not have to sacrifice happiness for another’s happiness. He could have absolutely had both. He chose not to. He chose his own way, and stuck by it until the end.

I have done the same. This thought literally just came to me. I am the same way. I think my unhappiness or selflessness way of thinking means that I have to destroy my own life, in order for everyone else to make it. But it’s not. It is not. I can still have my own life, and make my own decisions. I can still have everything I’ve ever wanted in life.

My father’s ways will not be my way. I may have followed in your footsteps dad, but I know you’d want me to break free of that. I became you. I now understand you. I forgive you. I want nothing but peace for you. As tears stream down my face, I want you to know that even in death, you’re still teaching me lessons.

There were some good times, though, right? We loved watching James Bond and Indiana Jones movies together. When we’d both stay up at night, we’d watch whatever late basketball or baseball games were on. That’s when I’d listen to you, and try to take in some semblance of fatherly advice.

Hey dad, by the way, the Bucks won the NBA championship. I know, they actually pulled it off. I was there, too, in person. I cried then, and I couldn’t help but think of you during those final seconds, as we became champions of the world. You would have loved it. Being there for that game, with Kevin, was a top moment of my life. You bet your ass I partied afterward. I did you proud on that one.

Sports was our only way of connecting, and you pushed me so hard to be the best point guard I could be. And with baseball, to be the number one pitcher. I’m sorry I gave up. I’m sorry I took things personal and quit. I know that must have torn you up inside. You never saw me play again. I will never live that down, and I will never stop regretting that I quit sports in high school.

I can promise you that I will continue on the path I have now taken. I will put my name (our name) up on a sign one day. You ran your own business with your father (Watry’s gas station) in town, and I will follow your footsteps once more. I promise you, that I will put Watry up on a sign someday again. You will not die in vain, and I will make that happen. It may not be back home, but your name will carry on.

Closing time dad, last call. Don’t worry, I’ve got a PBR with your name on it. Thanks for the memories…