Every Father’s Day, I bet just about everyone thinks about their dad. Some with warm feelings, others with hurt and anger, others wondering who the man is, or where he is.
My story is a tough one to discuss; however, over the years, I’ve learned that talking is better than ignoring and stuffing things way down under.
You see, I killed my father.
I didn’t mean to do it and before you get too far ahead in your thinking, no, I didn’t go to jail.
There were no police, no headlines. Just a fourteen-year-old girl who was never blamed for his death, yet I knew it was my fault. This fact has haunted me throughout my life.
There are moments, crisis moments, when life turns on a dime and there is nothing to do, but take that turn and keep going. Those times of crises mold us, shape us, and so often, distort us.
As the ads and articles about dads get more frequent around Father’s Day and we are all asked to buy something, anything with a motor, or an electronic device, or worst case, a tie, thoughts of my father become more highly engaged.
How did I kill my father? With words. With a sentence of defiance. With a challenge to do what I wanted to do, not what he wanted me to do.
It was a typical after-dinner evening in my family. My turn to do the dishes. I got a call from one of my friends and was deep into conversation about the boys in our class and the dishes sat waiting. My father walked into the kitchen, annoyed that the dishes were still sitting with bits of rice and smears of gravy.
He was ready to say something and I sort of dismissed him with a wave of my hand. That didn’t go well.
He told me to get off the phone and get the dishes done; he was clear and crisp. However, I was not going to be ordered around. After all, I had my own life to live.
We went a few rounds.
I had my fourteen-year-old hands on my fourteen-year-old hips and told him I’d do the dishes when I was good and ready. He finally left to go to the theater with my mother and simply said, “Get your work done.”
The kitchen was clean when they got home and I was already in bed. In the great scheme of things, it was no big deal.
In the middle of the night my dad woke with chest pains and before the ambulance made its way to our home, he was stone cold dead from a massive heart attack.
I just knew it was because of our argument. I was sure it was my fault. No one could convince me, otherwise.
Now, I’m all grown up and on a logical level I know that it would take more than a few sharp words between a father and a teenaged daughter to make his heart give out. And yet, the memory traces of that evening always show up around Father’s Day.
My way of celebrating is to keep the flame bright about what really matters in close relationships. Conflict resolution skills are vital for all of us and finding some kind words can repair even the most difficult relationships.
Think about that, and what you can say, to keep all your relationships effective and positive.