My Dad

He was dealt a traumatic hand from Day One.

He worked hard, sometimes multiple jobs. He rarely called off. He was in the mills for 50 years.

My Dad in Allentowm/Knoxville circa 1942

He grew up in a mid-century modern world, raised by grandparents born circa 1885. Everyone had good intentions, but that didn’t really pan out in their poor life choices. The biggest problem was the never ending secrets, followed closely by the desperate desire to assimilate.

No one taught him how to parent. And he didn’t figure it out on his own. He did try, but the demons of his own childhood had too strong a grasp on his mind. He never saw the good in himself so he had a hard time drawing it out in others. He was the bullied kid who turned it all inward, a self-loathing that he could never shake.

My Dad deserved a better life. I’m grateful for the good moments, but I can’t absolve him from the bad. I can’t change the family history, but I can challenge the narrative that continues to trickle down to the next two generations after me.

Children are not clean slates for broken people.

My Dad deserved the chance to go to college. He deserved a family that was honest with him about their own trauma. He deserved in-laws who didn’t force him to change his name for any reason. He deserved a lot more than he ever received.

I do love my father, but not that besotted blindspot love that reduces all of us.

I hope in the next life, he experiences the love and support he deserves in this one.

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