Today I will attend my Dad’s funeral. It will be the final chapter to bring an end to the last two weeks of my final time with my dad.
Father-son relationships can be tricky. It was very difficult for us. I know I spent a long period of my life seeking his approval. I just wanted him to say he was proud of me. He never did. Many years ago I made peace with that and I never kept expecting it.
As he laid in bed last week, he told me that he had wished things had been different. He said he was sorry that he didn’t spend more time with me.
It is true that for the first part of my life, his priority was the church. I told dad that it was okay and I understand more now. He did the best that he could. We also moved around a lot because churches did not appreciate his integrity and strict accounting of church finances. That integrity finally betrayed him and forced him to retire before he really wanted to when leadership failed to back him.
Integrity. That’s what I remember most about my dad. I never knew him to lie about anything regardless of the consequences. Yes he was strict but he was always consistent. He was decisive and I always knew what to expect from him.
Our relationship was challenging. He was always difficult to talk to. I dreaded it because I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. Even with our difficulties, he did try to relate to me. He constructed a basketball goal each place we lived and he was a pretty good shot. He would also take me to high school football games. He might have taken me to my first college or professional football game if the church hadn’t thought it was a sin to do so.
At every church Dad tried to make them better than before he came. He was a straightforward preacher who said what he believed. He and I didn’t agree with some things and even in his final days he was still firmly entrenched in it. He didn’t waver.
Our relationship didn’t get any better during my adult years. There was a large influence which manipulated his view of me. We spent more time not talking than we did together. It wasn’t my choice. It became more and more difficult to overcome the interference. I regret this interference deeply and today I boil over in anger about it. Things could have been different. The interference sabotaged our father-son opportunities.
I think one of the things that also hinders is was that we didn’t know how to relate to each other. In the final days I understood him more than I ever had before. It helped that we no long had the interference. I finally understood how to talk to him.
I so much wish it could have happened sooner.
He was a good man. He just never could navigate through the interference.
Damn that interference.
In his final days things were different and as they should have been. He was finally the father I had always wanted. I am no longer irritated to see his resemblance in the mirror. I am proud to be his son.
In one of his final days I asked Dad if it bothered him that I never followed his footsteps into the ministry. He was not. He said it wasn’t something hereditary. It was a calling. I was finally relieved about that.
During the times of the interference I only wished he would have reached out to me. I so much wanted him to make an effort. I wanted to be worth his effort. Unfortunately the interference kept that from happening.
I am certain that outside observers couldn’t understand why we had periods of estrangement. They never understood the power of the interference. They only saw me as the prodigal son. I always appeared to them as the one who ran away. I was the rebellious one. They never saw the battles I was having with the interference. As hard as I tried, it always won and affected our relationship.
Today there is no interference. Today I pay my respects to the man who is a part of me.