My heart broke for these fathers.
I agree with my father. But I think my mom was right - he was still in love with her.
Never having lived with a father, I took it in stride and didn't feel deprived. Not really.
Maybe a lot, depending on what was going on at the time.
Mostly I tried not to think about it.
My mother was bemused.
I took him for granted which, I suppose, is better than fixating on the loss.
Over the years, I visited my father a couple of times a year. Sometimes once a year. We fell into a life where this was normal and I believe my father eventually moved on to be more emotionally invested in his wife, new son and stepchildren. For the most part, I didn't mind but my mother said of all the kids, I was the one who missed him the most and wanted him in my life.
My mother was right.
He taught me to bait a hook and shoot a rifle. He told me about wildlife. He told me tales that haunted him from his time in the Korean War. He was simply the best at telling ghost stories. When he drank he got maudlin but for the most part, he was about looking at the good in things and doing the best you can, no matter what. In his younger years he was a hunter but as he aged, the idea of killing became abhorrent - for him, anyway. He became a conservationist. He loved his cat. He was good friends with his bookie. He kept a running list of things he wanted to ask God about when he got the chance.
My father demonstrated, to me, the secret of happiness.
Sometimes, when I think of my dad, I think he was born under an unfortunate star. He always said he hoped he left the world a better place by virtue of being in it. I think he did.
So when I was a guardian ad litem dealing with a distraught young father, I used to tell them that although my father was not around all the time when I was growing up, I KNEW he was my father and I was connected to him as any daughter would be. I knew so much would depend on how hard they tried to remain a part of their child's life but it seemed to offer them some comfort. And it was honest. It was simplistic, but honest. There was no way I could tell them how complicated it all was. All I could give them was the bottom line.
My father used to sing to the kids. He had a pleasant voice and I don't think of my father without thinking of him singing a song, usually with a beer in his hand, generally after drinking too much. To this day, nothing makes me feel more safe, than that memory. And I think that is what fathers are for. In that, he succeeded. And that is no small thing.