I need to forgive you, Daddy. I wanted a warm cuddly daddy with soft words and a warm heart, you were cold and distant and punished me often. I was afraid of you and I felt like I was a disappointment to you, just as you were a disappointment to me.
I need to forgive you for not attending my school activities. You didn’t see me at the school carnival as my class princess, in second grade and fifth grade. You didn’t hear my solos in the school programs or at church or as the lead in the school musical.
I had gashes on my legs from the beatings you inflicted. I tried hard to keep away from you and to be good. At some point though, I must have done something right because you bought me a car. It was not a new car, but it was to be mine. But before you gave me the keys, you made me change a tire, learn to change the oil and use jumper cables. That might have been a good thing, except that in those days, girls did not wear pants and I had to do those things in a dress, it was humiliating for me.
You were not there when I graduated from high school or when I graduated from college with four years on the Dean’s List paid for with academic scholarships. You were not there when my two precious healthy children were born.
I need to forgive you for not setting a good example of husbands and fathers for me; I chose poorly.
I chose someone like you; strict, punitive and disconnected. I endured twenty years of sadness and emptiness with him, until one day I’d had enough and came home to tell mom and you.
Mom sympathized, but you had only one thing to say when I told you how sad and lonely I was in my marriage, you said: “But that’s the way marriage is”
I need to forgive you for mistreating my beloved mom all those years. I finally had enough of your verbal abuse towards her, at almost fifty, I exploded when you started in on her. I told you I was leaving and would not come back until you apologized to her. I left in tears, sad that it had taken me so long to stand up to you, sad that you might take it out on mom, and sad that a grown man needed to be told not to abuse his wife. Hours later, mom called to invite me to dinner at your bidding, and that was the closest you got to an apology to me, to Mom.
I forgive you because from that day until the day you died five years later, you tried to be good to her. You bought her flowers for no reason and placed a birthday greeting for her in the newspaper she reads on her seventieth birthday. You two traveled, even internationally.
When you died, I learned about the abuse you had suffered as a child from both your dad and your stepmothers after your mom died when you were four. You had to drop out of school at thirteen to help care for your six sisters. I learned that you did not have role models to be a good husband or father.
It has taken me a long, long time, but I can do it now. You were not the daddy that I wanted, but I you were the best daddy you knew how to be. I forgive you.