Cat’s in the Cradle

I don’t remember my father being around that much as I was growing up. I’m sure he was there from time to time, but I just don’t recall much in the way of interaction as a child. He was in the air force and no doubt a busy guy, but I think you can be a hard-working man and still be a positive part of your kids’ lives. I remember as a four-year-old in Spokane, Washington, going down a long slide as flat as I could make myself so he wouldn’t see me as he came to pick me up (back then it was okay to go to the park alone at that age, either because there weren’t pedophiles, or more likely because there was no media to first cultivate them and then sensationalize the danger). I had permission to be there, so hiding was an odd thing to do; I think maybe to me he was larger than life, as fathers tend to be at that age, but also kind of scary because perhaps I didn’t know him so well.

I played a lot of baseball growing up and was pretty good at it. I really don’t recall him coming to the games. I’m sure he must have on occasion, but apparently not enough to make himself part of the experience for me. I do remember annoying him with endless questions and complaints from the back seat on road trips, dodging his attempts at a backhanded reply as he drove. Strangely, though, I don’t recall any real interaction with him once we got where we were going.

My parents divorced when I was twelve. My father and I had the occasional sanctioned weekend together, but it was usually awkward and often involved a new woman he was seeing and her family. These visits were uncomfortable and I doubt I did my best to improve them. I wanted him to myself and resented the intrusion of people I assumed help ruin my family; he likely wanted me around to help validate his new situation. Eventually, both of us seemed to give up and I stopped going.

Dad remarried when I was sixteen; I missed the wedding for a basketball game. Around this time, I think my father tried to be more involved in my life, but it was too little and too late. As a parent you inevitably face that point when your children, usually in their teens, develop relationships and interests outside the home and don’t need (or often want) your input as often. Dad tried to make up for lost time at the worst time. In my early twenties, he tried to come to most of my club softball games. Around this time I even lived with him for a short time, but still his involvement in my life remained peripheral at best.

My fellow siblings had issues with their father as well and it’s safe to say they were no closer to him than I. Dad had made his mistakes with each of us;  the details stay tucked inside the family vault where they belong. Suffice it to say my father’s relationships with each of his children were strained at best and either because of limited involvement or egregious error on his part, or both, the fault in each case lay squarely with him. When my father retired and then divorced again in his early seventies, he found himself pretty much alone. While welcome in my home, we never really sought each other out. I was busy; he was dad. He would visit his grandchildren infrequently and I know he enjoyed them, but their sporadic relationship with him was destined to be as awkward as mine had been. While they called him Grandpa Bill, they knew little about him and were never close to him.

He had a back surgery in his mid seventies and developed a very bad infection that almost killed him. He eventually recovered, though the surgery had been botched and he emerged in worse physical condition than before, embittered and cursed by ill fortune. His children were there for him, perhaps as much from a sense of duty than anything else; we found him a nice place where his meals were provided, had care if he needed it and could come and go as he pleased. He moved into a crummy apartment as soon as he was able to decide for himself.

In December of 1999, my father didn’t feel well and went to the hospital. In a day, he was diagnosed with Biliary cancer. In another, it was determined to be inoperable and that he likely had only a couple of weeks to live. He and I had talked once about a friend of his who had gone quickly and how he hoped it would be that way for him. Now that it would be, he seemed struck by the finality of it and desperate for a way out. However, all conversations with his caregivers concerning his options invariably turned to his comfort and preparation for the inevitable. Eventually he became resigned to his fate.

In the end, his children were there for him; how much was from the same sense of duty and how much from love I won’t say; we’ve never spoken of it. I can say I loved my father. I just didn’t know him very well, or perhaps knew him too well and didn’t like him all that much. I suspect my siblings likely felt the same way. But in that all too brief period when dwindling time should have compelled us, neither he nor I could summon the strength or courage to say what should have been said. For me, that I worried about his relationship with God, that I loved him and would miss him, and for him…I don’t know. Maybe the same thing.

Dad entered hospice on New Year’s Eve, 1999. Where most people concerned themselves with the new millennium and potential societal doom, we dealt with the end of my father’s life. He quickly slipped into a coma and died on January 3, 2000, with all four of his children among those at his bedside. At his funeral service, I was amazed by the turnout. There were well over a hundred people in attendance; almost all were colleagues and friends from work. It was gratifying to see how many people he had relationships with, that so many had kind things to say and that they came not from a sense of duty, but because they wanted to pay their respects. And so it was: a man who defined himself not by his family or role as father, but by his work and competence as an administrator in three separate careers, was celebrated for it.

He’s been gone twelve years this month. I wish I’d done more things with him when it was my turn to do so. As time has gone by, the subtleties of his personality are fading from my memory; I am desperate to hang on to the good things I knew about him. He was a smart guy, with a biting wit, good stories and several funny, metaphorical “dadisms” that he would apply to any number of situations. Sadly, though, my clearest memory  is of a man in a bed, stoic and unwaveringly somber as death descended, still unable to relate to his children on a level that others take for granted; and of me, somehow too afraid to tell him I loved him and worse, to broach the subject of his salvation. My fear and selfishness will haunt me the rest of my days, and perhaps him for all eternity.

I learned something from my father. My wife and children mean more to me than anything else in this world; I really enjoy my family and I have loved being a part of their lives. I hope they know how proud I am of each of them. My children know I love them as much as I can love; I hope that when my time comes I have the opportunity to tell them one more time. I promise I won’t skip the chance.

About Thestrugglershandbook

I'm a middle aged (if I live to be 100) guy, married, father of three, from Tucson, AZ. I'll write about almost anything. Though somewhat bent, what I write is always true(ish). It won't change your life, however. Unless that would preclude you from reading...
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280 Responses to Cat’s in the Cradle

  1. Josie says:

    Poignant and beautifully written…brought tears to my eyes. How important it is that we seize the opportunity each day to express our love and appreciation to our loved ones and friends. Thanks for this fresh reminder!

  2. Carol Brandon says:

    Simply beautiful

  3. This was really moving…family is one of the hardest things.

  4. Diane Ewing says:

    Well said. Sanctioned weekend visits with my father were brutal!
    From one closet writter to another, I’ve been secretly following your blog. I’m publicly outing myself and I’ve linked yours to mine in hopes others will find you as sardonically funny as I do. Plus, you’re one heck of a race car driver….wait, I think that’s someone else…

  5. Families are such intricate tapestries, aren’t they? I never knew my father because he died seven days after my first birthday. I created him in my mind as I would have chosen him to be and when I got my stepfathers later on down the road always believed he would have stood taller than they did when it came to parenting. Very nice writing. 🙂

  6. Hannah Peddy says:

    Stop making me cry every time I read your blog!

  7. Jordan says:

    I second what HP said up there. Like Mrs. Ewing up there I’ve been secretly following your blog and continue to find its contents wonderful and humorous.

  8. this was a moving post, and one i think many can relate to on some level. few people invest in the work of breaking family cycles; kudos to you for making it your mission.

  9. This is such a beautiful story — thank you for expressing what many people feel! 🙂

  10. Professor Finch says:

    That was really something else. I can’t quite describe it. Beautiful, definitely, but it reminded me so much of my life that it brought tears to my eyes. It’s really nice to learn that others have gone through similar experiences, and I am truly grateful you shared yours. I completely understand how you feel about your father, distant because you didn’t have much of a relationship to begin with and heart broken because you didn’t spend enough time telling him how you felt and that you loved him before her passed away. My father died four years ago, and I love him, but he wasn’t the best father he could have been. Anyway, I am happy to hear that you absolutely adore your family and know how important it is to love them every second. I hope I will love my family to the same degree when I start one. I think I will 🙂

    Thank you again!

  11. Very touching. It made me sad to hear you couldn’t say you loved him while he was in his death bed but I’m sure that he knew you did. After all you were there when he needed you and that’s what counts.

  12. I can relate to this on some levels because my father was largely absent for a good percentage of my life — if not physically, then emotionally. He kind of loomed large like an umbra whose details I could not see for the shadow — I’m sure they were there, but I could never make them out. I am 35 years old and due to his habit of telling different stories to different people, I am still trying to figure out who he really was. It’s not easy having to piece him together from the testimonies of my siblings and mother, my own memories, and military records.

    Thank you for sharing this.


    • Gosh. It wouldn’t be easy to glean from others the kind of man your father was. I can’t pull off the different stories to different people; too hard to keep track. Thank you so much for visiting; I will do the same.

  13. whenquiet says:

    Very smooth and emotional…..I sincerely feel that your Father, now in the other realm, ….senses how you feel….Your story is quite bittersweet…..I am really touched by your active decision to be there for your family….

  14. The Hook says:

    Very beautiful – and honest – post, good sir.

  15. patricemj says:

    I guess the absences can sometimes become a kind of relationship to us as well. I’m sorry your dad was not able to be there for you…he taught you your importance to your own family. Sounds like a high price to pay, but you do strike me as an exceedingly wealthy man 😉 Blessings, patrice

  16. Cat says:

    Beautifully written. I could feel the hurt and regret, but ultimate resolution. Congratulations on a wonderful post being FP’ed.

  17. This was so well written. I hope you don’t mind that I posted it on my facebook page, in the hopes that my Dad reads it. I’m realizing now in my 30’s that no matter how grown you think you are, you always need your parents, or in my case parent, sometimes even more so as an adult. Thanks so much for sharing this.
    Jennifer Lee

  18. simphonyblue says:

    this is sooo sad for me… I mean,don’t get me wrong, it’s nice written, but it’s really sad. I am mother of one- so far 🙂 -and I can understand these feelings.
    I think I have a really nice family, and I really want to think we have a great relation with our son-he is 2 years old now, but I don’t want things to change for him, from the relation point of view. and like many parents, we hope he will understand and appreciate family and good relations in the future…as you see it is really important.. if not most important.
    wish you the best!

  19. My husband is an incredible father (highly understated). And since it was impossible to know what kind of dad he would be before we got married and had kids… I consider myself blessed. I say this because his own father was a distant and abusive alcoholic. My husband learned from his father what NOT to be as a husband/dad. But then there’s that divine intervention part… somehow the very part of life that should be the most broken becomes the part that’s the most alive and healthy… there’s redemption. And it sounds like you have that with your own wife and kids.

    I appreciate the honesty in your reflection on your relationship with your father. I just wrote a post about the ways we say ‘I love you’ and I’d be interested in your thoughts on it.

    • I’m getting a lot of feedback about how less than stellar fathers in some twisted way help their sons becoming good ones. If I had to trade my family for a good relationship with my dad, it wouldn’t be close to worth it. I’m so blessed. And I absolutely promise to read your post, just as soon as I return to writing obscurity(shouldn’t be too long).

      • Hey, thanks so much for stopping by… you are a man of your word and I appreciate that you did… did you survive the freshly pressed experience?

      • “The Ways We Say I Love You”; I remember you. Nice post! I did survive, but it’s almost a curse. After 3100 views in a day, 65 doesn’t cut it anymore, though before freshly pressed I’d have been thrilled. Thanks for revisiting; I’ll do the same!

  20. Britta Rose says:

    I went through a very similar relationship/experience with my own father. In reading your own “Cat’s in the Cradle” story, I see things/fears that I haven’t (or don’t want to) admit. Thank you for sharing!

  21. boomerdink says:

    When I read a story such as yours, I always have the same questions. I want to know about your father’s father… and his father, etc. Where did it begin, and what gave you the impetus to end it? The covenant is real and at work.

    • My father’s dad was much the same as he, I think. You can read what I knew of him in another post, “God, Don’t Let Me Die in Louisiana – Part I”. I don’t think I made a conscious decision to end the cycle; I just fell in love with each baby the second they were born. It’s been really easy; I believe, as I’ve read some comments from men with similar paternal relationships, that apparently we can learn good parenting from watching bad.

  22. Simon says:

    Wow, this made me feel. Really good stuff. Thanks for sharing and congrats on fp.

  23. 1stpeaksteve says:

    Wow! Thanks for a very moving post. I am on the other end like many parents are these days and I really never want my child to feel this way about me. It is battle with the other forces at hand but you can’t stop and let your child slip out of your life. Thankfully I spend a lot of time with him but others are not as fortunate.
    Thanks for writing about something that I am sure was difficult.

  24. The Guat says:

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed with your Dad story! I knew others would enjoy your writing too. Incidentally thanks for visiting my Dad story and liking it too 🙂

  25. I think I’ll go call my Dad…it’ been awhile…

  26. zenmamajo says:

    i remember reading a book about how the author’s father was also very distant in their relationship. they shared an intimate conversation when she was an adult and you know what he said to her? he always loved her but no one ever showed him how to love. how profound. he just didn’t know how. pride is a tough thing to overcome and can sometimes affects our relationships (speaking to myself here! 🙂

    it sounds like although you did not understand his choices, you eventually forgave him. what a blessing it must have been for him to have his children surround him in his last days.

    great post

  27. Edgymama says:

    Reblogged this on Raisingaboy's Blog and commented:
    Here’s a father-son story that is unfortunately, all too common in a world where men aren’t taught or encouraged or validated when they make the decision to spend quality time with and raising their children.

    • I don’t want to misinterpret what you’re saying; I do wish I’d said yes to my dad whenever he wanted to do something, but I feel like he pretty much dictated how our relationship turned out. I seriously regret not making him more a part of my family’s lives in his final years.

  28. karelle27 says:

    Sigh. Well done. Thank you for sharing. I am going to read more posts, it looks like we might have a similar style.

    -Chris –

  29. societyred says:

    Wow what a touching post. My pop left us a little over a year ago and while I have 54 years of generally positive memories, I can’t seem to shake the memory of the rapid transformation from a powerful dominating personality to a withered, dying man. I also have things I wish I would have said and done. In my thoughts about the other side I imagine an automatic understanding of these wishes. Just hours before my father-in-law left us last August he said over and over that he could see how “it all came together”. He was a talker, my pop wasn’t. I think they both saw it though.
    Absolutely love your blog. I’m an instant fan.
    Thank you 🙂

    • Wow! Very kind words; thank you so much. Yeah, even as an adult, I kind of pictured my dad as invincible. It wrecked me to see him shrinking before my eyes, so I know how you felt. And I hope your dad understood your wishes before reaching the other side, as I hope mine did. I promise to visit your blog as soon as I can!

  30. Sarah Harris says:

    Wow! What an amazingly honest and heartfelt account! Good for you!

  31. Rae says:

    Thanks for the candid and beautifully written story.

  32. i mayfly says:

    Losing a parent. It changes you. Or at least it did me. My dad turned 87 this year and our relationship was similar to that of yours and your father’s. My mom’s death this last May changed our history. In her last 7 months, our roles reversed and I found the strength to break the pattern my parents had set for our family. Her death taught me a lot about living and how I do and don’t want to interact with others.

    Thank you for giving a compassionate voice to something that moved you so deeply.

  33. S. Smith says:

    Very nice memoir and something most can relate to on some level. It’s sad that we wait until it’s too late to realize what we should have done or said or been . . . let’s hope it’s understood. Thank you!

  34. Relate strongly to this, similar relationship with my father. He died at the age of 50 from a heart attack. I was in the Navy at the time, flew home for the funeral and back on my ship two weeks later. Took a good long while to work through all that. I am blessed with three daughters and a couple of grandkids. My resolve to be involved in their lives is strong, thanks to what my father didn’t do.

  35. Nicely written. My father was a minor occurrence in my life until I was almost 18. At that point he had grown up enough to make an effort and ten years he is still trying hard. I struggle constantly with opening up myself to his presence and closing myself off. My heart had been broken a million times waiting on my front porch for him to pick me up. I am not sure how close we will ever be, but I do my best to appreciate the times he comes through for me.

    • Aww. I hope you have a nice front porch. That’s such a sweetly sad way to say he’s unreliable. I think your attitude is admirable, and I’ll pray you DO get close. Thanks for reading; I’ll do the same!

  36. Your story moved me to tears… my husband had a similar situation growing up with his parents, which led to a relationship that was very estranged. My husband lost his father this year, and was really confused about the lack of grief. The positive thing about being married to someone who had such a difficult upbringing is it has made him the most unbelievable father. He strives to do everything differently than how he was raised – and I’m grateful for that.

    • I’ve heard the same thing from a number of people. I guess we learn to do right by being taught what’s wrong. As for the grief: I cried over my dad, probably a year after he died – so I can relate. I’ll visit your blog as soon as I can; maybe I can find out more about this great guy!

  37. Peter Skov says:

    My dad was a busy man too but I remember him doing as much as he could to be a part of our (my sister and me) lives. I know a lot about my dad’s life and I have a huge amount of respect for him. But I am also aware of many people like yourself who were distanced from their fathers through whatever circumstances and never felt much more than a logically understood familial connection rather than an emotional one. I also very clearly remember years ago when an older co-worker’s father passed away and what he said about it: “You think of your father as a superhero, one that is always there and will always be there. But it isn’t so. Even superhero dad’s pass away.” Thinking about those words and my father have lead me to a similar conclusion as you, that my kids are precious and that I want to be in their lives as much as I can.

    • It’s funny how that works. We don’t have to be fathers who are found wanting; some of us learned that we could love our kids AND tell them so. You probably feel the same way I do: how can you NOT want to be with your kids? Thank you so much for reading; it means a great deal.

  38. keruili says:

    Love the post. I am on the above the ground side of my relationship and wading through these same quandaries. Thanks for writing so plainly about a subject that holds such depth.
    Blessings on you as a dad who is breaking through!

  39. C. Valdez says:

    for you, what is more difficult (if either is) – not telling your father what you wanted to say, or not hearing what your father might have said had you both summoned the courage?

    i like your writing style – i’m a new follower!

    • Thank you for that. I’m so pleased! Excellent question; You know, my dad wasn’t an ogre. If I had said what was in my heart, I have to think he would’ve done the same. It really makes it worse; I think it would have made us both happy to hear what each had to say, so why not just say it? Stupid, and sad.

  40. Grumpa Joe says:

    Being a father of three and a grandfather of seven, I am always looking for ways to strengthen the relationship with my family. There are many times though, when I feel as bereft of love and closeness as you have with your father. I don’t know what it is, but it is there. Perhaps it is because the kids are all so busy with their lives and being good parents to their kids.
    The need for love and the need for a special parent-child bond seems to be an endless quest.
    You have written a beautiful tribute to your dad, and I hope you found it cathartic to let some of your feelings come out.
    Thanks for sharing.

    • It was cathartic; thank you. You sound like a good pop and grandpop; I hope those kids make time for you. And keep loving those grandkids; I can’t wait for mine(none on the horizon as yet). Thank you for reading; I’m gonna visit Grumpa Joe’s Place soon!

  41. 7theaven says:

    From beginning to the last word.


    I’m getting a bit senti now…:)

  42. CJ says:

    Wow, so well written and holds true for so many. I’m wiping tears away. After I hit “Post Comment” I’m going to my children’s room and giving them each a kiss. The time we have when they want nothing more then to be with us is so very short. Thanks for sharing!

    • Thank you so much! You shouldn’t cut onions while you’re on the computer. I’m so glad I’m compelling you to kiss the babies; my job is done! Hopefully that time they want to be with you is for the rest of your life.

  43. Thank you for your post. It’s cathartic for me as I realize that I am not the only one in this world who feels the same way toward a parent. I grew up without a Dad and my Mom neglected me while I was growing up. Maybe she was busy with work and with dating. So I was left to fend for myself most days of my life. Now I’m a mom to my three kids and I try to be with them, to be a significant figure in their life. Every now and then I feel guilty because I am apathetic to my Mom. It’s only now that she is trying to reach out to me through my kids but it still doesn’t change anything between us. I will try to work on our relationship though for my sake…

    • I’m no counselor or psychologist; I can only tell you how I feel. If she’s reaching out, let her grab hold(as long as her presence is good for the kids), and you won’t have the regrets I’ve had. Thank you for reading.

  44. This was a very moving post. I read it from the point of view of a divorced mother who has watched her children grow up in the same straits as you. They are adults now and I doubt they would write about how they feel . They are living as you did , loving their father but not feeling close. They have missed out on having the relationship they would have desired. I wonder how your mom dealt with all the pain she must have felt for you.
    Thank you for sharing.

  45. some kids often do that bro……, be strong….

  46. Family values and bond play an important part in our lives. Wish you best of life.

  47. Java Girl says:

    Sorry to hear about your father. I’m glad that you finally got a good balance of true and real love with your family that you yearned for as a child. Very touching story and thank you for opening your deepest thoughts here on your blog for others to enjoy/appreacite/relate to. Hope you have a wonderful week!

  48. Jacqueline says:

    Beautiful post! It also reminds me of the song “In the Living Years” by Mike and the Mechanics. For some reason as as kid, I absolutely loved that song and listened to it over and over again. Even at such a young age, I remember being struck by the importance of telling those we love that we do, even when it’s hard, maybe especially when it’s hard.

    It sounds like you’re being the father you want to your children, which is all any of us can really do. We learn from life, and our “mistakes.” Those that don’t are doomed to repeat it, but your children will have a different story–one of a Dad who loves them and most importantly, shows it!

  49. omwaombara says:

    Your story, especially the last paragraph touched me deeply. I have always believed in family. It is my greatest asset. My mum is now 85 and I try to spend as much time as I can with her. This makes her happy and cared for. Thanks for this lovely and educative post.

  50. Gail says:

    A very touching post and written from the heart…. thanks so much for sharing. I could relate in many ways. My mother died of bile duct cancer (I did a 10-part series on her illness and death). While we didn’t always get along in her later years, our relationship did improve during her two year illness with her cancer. It’s always hard losing a parent. Period. I look forward to reading more of your posts!

  51. its a blog like this that validates exactly the journey im about to embark on. Reading your story was like reading a blog i will be writing. I started a undercover blog to write about my life in the third person. so that i can comfortably free write the most intimate of details of my life and put it out there and just out of my head. this blog talking about the father that disappears at 13 for me to write him off and tell the world he passed away as the best way to change the subject. only to learn that he is alive and well and that he and my remarried mother were having a 19 year affair while the entire time mother LYING TO ME THE ENTIRE TIME…reasons to which are still denounced to me…

    You post has inspired me

    Check up on me as ill be enjoying your writing

    Thank you…

  52. Roda says:

    Its a pity we can’t choose our relatives but what you wrote could be true for many in varying degrees and yes if we are smart we choose not to make the same mistakes in our own lives.
    That’s the most important thing to remember .. for we are not responsible for the actions or
    behaviour of others and their capacity to keep us at arm’s length .. that’s the one truth which
    I feel has helped me cope with my reality too. Its really surprising that wherever you look
    there are such instances and the best thing I learnt is not to make the same mistakes myself.
    It teaches us what not to do. We have taught the art of blessing ourselves and we can only
    feel sorry for the people who bring this on themselves and end up distancing their own kith
    and kin. Everything in our world has to do with the correct mindset .. the right way to
    thinking for ourselves and it is possible not to repeat mistakes. The best we can do is
    pray for such people and be grateful for what we have managed to create for ourselves.

  53. Treasure everyone around us!

  54. samacwns says:

    Thank you for the moving post. It must be difficult to live with the unknown about your father’s faith. But all that’s left is to trust in God. Thank you again for sharing your story.

  55. Damon says:

    With how expansive the internet is and my blog reading a.d.d, I never read entire blog posts but rather skim through. I read every single word in this one and it was beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

  56. vandybandy says:

    reading your beautiful piece about the relationship of a father and child somewhere istarted introspecting my relation first as a child then as aparent.thank you for making me think from both sides.

  57. That was a very touching detailing of a very fragile relationship, as fragile as your father seemed to be in the end. Thank you so much for sharing. These are the relationships that force us to grow and learn… about ourselves, about others. We have to trust that it is serving a greater purpose. God bless!

  58. Leah says:

    Very touching post! It’s so easy to go through life almost taking for granted those people who mean so much to us (even if we don’t realize it at the time). Your post is a reminder to stop and make time to be with your kids, your spouse, or your parents. Thanks for the reminder.

  59. senoritta70 says:

    Read the lines again and again and tried to read between the lines as well. I cannot agree that living today happily around your family is loving them and promising them good memories. Even your dad was promising you good moments for you, though he was so different from what you wanted him to be.. We always misunderstand our parents.. you shall live with this pain of not giving enough love from your side to him

  60. I love I’m a middle aged man ( If I live to a 100) that’s cute. In fairness I think of 50 as middle aged 🙂

  61. Very touching column. I’m 34 and lost my father when I was 10. He was an engineer, but his real passion was music. He wrote a lot of songs, bluegrass stuff mostly, and played guitar. Over the years I’ve rediscovered some of the music he recorded (mostly thanks to the efforts of his close friends). I wrote a column about that experience recently.


  62. Fair play for missing the wedding for a football game 🙂

  63. metan says:

    This post made me sad for that little kid you were. Perhaps the best thing your father did for you was to teach you how to be a loving father. He taught by reverse-example! You have done a great thing in taking that example and doing better by your own family.

  64. Rolo says:

    Wow, that story is very moving, I don’t get moved by stories that easily either, very honest.
    I can relate in some ways. Funny how some people prioritise their lives in different ways; be it family, work or by different values.
    Thanks for sharing!

  65. Vivien Veil says:

    I’m sorry to hear about your relationship with your dad. My brother had a similar relationship with our dad – minus the divorce. It’s sad that we tend to always want to make more of an effort with someone when it’s already too late, i.e. death. I live far from my parents and this makes me want to make more of an effort to go and see them because I know I’ll regret it if something happens to me or them.

  66. God that actually had me tearing up! A very poignant yet unsentimental post, thanks for sharing.

  67. A poignant and beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing, stories like this touch peoples’ lives.

  68. What a sad legacy we men leave. Your story is similar to mine and to millions of men. In my case my father’s curse became my blessing to my children. I became an at-home dad by accident and stayed at it by choice. I must have done something right (aside from not killing anyone) as my boys who are now 20 and 17 are still very comfortable in my presence. By the time I was their age I didn’t want to be anywhere near my dad. Good that you found the grace to be with him at the end.

  69. rmv says:

    my father was “around” all my life, still is, but i probably had less interaction with him than you had with yours. not sure what to make of that.

  70. I like your 120 format pictures!

  71. carriepitts says:

    I just wrote a similar story on my blog and happened to come across yours. Death often teaches us great lessons about our own lives. Maybe it’s God’s way of helping us have less regret than those who leave before us. Thanks for your post. I’ll continue to read your blog.

  72. bzephyr says:

    It seems you’ve become the father you wish you had. My father was awesome, and I’m hardly any of the things to my kids that he was for me. The more I realize this, the more I wish I could be close to my dad while he’s still around. Those times have been too few and far between in the last 20 years. But his abundant-life example still motivates me to keep loving my kids better no matter how many times I fail.

  73. Chaks says:

    it is indeed a great story. liked this post.


  74. shil says:

    That made me cry like many of them before me inspite of the fact that I cannot relate to it in any way. I have a good relationship with my father. I am still daddy’s little girl. Thanks for sharing.

  75. Varsh says:

    Lovely post…I’m sure your dad’s missing and thinking of the same things up there! 🙂

  76. Natty Kuume says:

    Parents will be parents and children will be children. Same story accross the globe it seems. This post definitely resonates with many people. Thank you for sharing.

  77. valentinedee says:

    What a touching tribute to your dad. As I read your story, I was thinking of my own, who was also in a hospice. I was the only one in the room with him when he passed. It’s touching to know how we truly can learn to appreciate what’s important after our parents’ or loved ones pass.


  78. This is the kind of post many poeple wish they could secretly email, in hopes of making an absent parent realize what they are doing to their children. I watch my son and stepdaughters struggle with this, the pain affects so many aspects of who they are !

  79. That song always brought me to tears and I think you’ve beautifully explained why. My dad worked a lot when I was little and was away from home quite often, but I’m lucky in that he played an active role in my life. Congrats on a well-deserved FP.

  80. I did not press the “like” button on this, because I did not feel sincere and truthful in my emotions in dealing with subject. This past weekend, I, myself just turned Seventy. I have had similiar thoughts about my Father through most of my life. Trufhfully it was up to my mid 50’s that my thinking toward my Father changed. It is my belief, we humans do not even start to mature as humans till we reach our mid 50’s. Today, as I look back on my Father, I realize that I was not mature enough as a son to put myself in his shoes. Today, I can. Considering where my Father came from, how hard he worked to provide for me and my brother, as well as our Mother, my Father was a true hero, in every way.

  81. dinkerson says:

    What a raw story. This is a post that teaches so much about so many things. What you’ve learned about valuing the truly valuable things; as a child of a neglectful parent, being willing to look past the canyons in the relationship, and continue to pursue closeness; remembering as a parent that we never get these days back. Just a lot here to digest. Thanks for posting such a personal story. It seems we learn the best from those.

  82. peachyteachy says:

    There is such power in the fact that your experience of your own family is different. Even though it does not change what was, I really feel that we somehow heal and redeem those who went before in the choices that change the effect of theirs. If that makes any sense.

  83. millodello says:

    When my dad passed I was completely at ease.There was no doubt that he cared for me/all of us. He never did “Dad stuff” with us that we could brag or much note but there was never any doubt about his allegiance. From your description I have no doubts about your dad’s either. Nicely put.

  84. lucindalines says:

    I would just like to say be thankful everyday that you had the chance to at least be there a little at the end. My father died in April of 1989. It was ruled suicide, but really could have been a careless accident, we will never know for sure. I to this day cannot remember the last time I talked to him. I just know that it was a weird year, and we weren’t home between Christmas and his death. I too have learned to say, “I love you” to my daughters, though not nearly enough. Thanks for the reminder.

  85. Wittyburg says:

    Thank you for sharing this beautifully written tribute. Very relatable, even with a father who was physically present during my childhood. A wonderful reminder to cherish the people we have while they’re still here on Earth. Congrats on FP!

  86. An honest post with so much heart to give including its pains that all the more makes it a post that I could relate too. Like you, my family means all to me…I can loose all the worldly things and riches for as long as I’m with my family. My prayers for your dad. In heaven , he is at peace knowing his child and his family loved him dearly. This Summer I will be going home to spend as much time with my parents. I haven’t hugged them for 4 years now…God bless you and your family.

  87. pnwauthor says:

    I feel deeply moved by your post about your father. I also grew up in a military family. I imagine it’s a real challenge to have a military career and a family. And older generations of men didn’t spend as much time with families as the men of today. Please don’t beat yourself up for the love you didn’t give to your father. It’s better to focus on what you learned from him, about life, and to give love to your children in the way that you mentioned.

  88. Karen says:

    My son is 13 and I am public enemy #1. I often wonder what I said, the last time he asked me to “play a game” with him. I pray to God I said “sure, of course, I’d love to!” but I fear the truth is, I was too busy, preoccupied or selfish, doing something I thought needed more attention. Thank you for this rather humbling and most beautifully written, post.

  89. Because we humans have the ability to spawn and procreate doesn’t assure us the “greatest parent in the world” coffee mug. There was a time where my three kids respected me and were proud of me; I owned a business in the community, I was active in the local school district, and I took parenting and their education seriously. No parent is perfect yet my kids did far better at school than I ever did and all three were respected and admired in their own social circles. Whether that was nature or nurture can be debated, but the end result was great kids. Having a business allowed me to escape and go to the kids’ extra curricular activites and various competitions and games. I was very lucky compared to most parents in that I could have that quality time… and I made it a special point to treat them as individuals. But then things changed a bit. I was involved in an auto accident that killed my wife’s sister while the three of us were heading to a wedding reception; the law said not my fault, but there was still a latent responsibility I felt. No one in the family blamed me for anything but tragedies of this nature don’t just go away.

    To make a long story already even shorter… I ended up getting a divorce after the kids were out of school. Even though they are adults they still harbor resentment toward me.Two of them have gotten married (I was invited and attended one wedding of those two)… but they don’t communicate with me anymore. So I guess in a way I can speak from the other side of your post… communication has broke down in spite of my many overtures over the years. I don’t even get any of them telling me to get lost or stay away… or just generally be pissed at me. Some response would be better than nothing. I certainly don’t blame them.. after all, I did the “bad” deed. But being 61 years old and in chosen denial of my Type II condition I am likely not going to live beyond the next 9 years. Would be nice if we could work things out and play up the good times we had.
    You had a good post… it hit home.

  90. mdprincing says:

    thank you for this great reminder of what is important in life.

  91. Maru Wv says:

    He was selfish and cared only about his work. Even if you had talked to him, nothing would have changed. You didn’t miss anything because he had nothing to offer. It was HIM who missed a rich and meaningful life with you. He was the father, he took his own desicions and lived the life he wanted, and now it is your time to enjoy YOUR own family. Hate him, forgive him, let him go. Get out of the guilt trap, and enjoy the rest of your time here with those who really matter.Today is yours.

  92. gaycarboys says:

    Lovely thoughts. We are about the same age. Don’t the years spin past?

  93. His Salt says:

    Your vulnerability is touching. Some of these deep losses take such time to process. Your loss was incurred as much in your father’s life as it was in his death. Thank you for sharing so deeply.

  94. Eryka says:

    cool stuff

    check out my blog
    i apreciate it 🙂

  95. Bruce says:

    Cats in the cradle an appropriate title. A good read, a little sad, but real. You and your siblings may not have had the ideal relationship with your Dad (and vica versa) but from your birth to his bedside when he died, you and your siblings experienced a relationship, not perfect, but a relationship nonetheless. Life isn’t perfect. The song, “The living years” by Mike and the Mechanics comes to mind as well.

  96. bmillergirl1 says:

    That took courage to write this post and it touched me in the reading of it. I congratulate you for putting into words now, for yourself and for others, what you learned and what you’d do different. Thanks for sharing and be blessed!

  97. Avalynn27 says:

    That’s a beautiful story :/ Stay strong, I’m sure he is well missed

  98. I really like it. It’s just that, something that knock me out of the question of: “Am I doing well with my family?” or ” Did I’ve shown my love for my parents?” well anyway thanks for reminding us how important to show love each other.
    God Bless♥

  99. joahnadiyosa says:

    This moved me to tears…
    You write beautifully…

  100. Sunshine says:

    It’s amazing how the greatest teachers are sometimes the ones who failed or hurt us the most. Your last paragraph said it all . . . thank you for this reflective post because what you learned from your father, you are teaching your family and now the world through your writings.
    ~Abundant blessings to you and your loved ones.

  101. israelimom says:

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I was very moved.

  102. opheliajasmin says:

    It’s amazing the impact you can have in simply and truthfully telling your story. It’s something we forget is powerful, but it’s so helpful to us all just to see your story and to feel free to share our own. I’m so glad you were freshly pressed. Straightforward, honest writing is always the most moving.

  103. Thanks for sharing this….we can all relate on some level…..very nice read! 🙂

  104. Chris says:

    This post came from a great place within your soul – well done! 🙂

  105. Kate says:

    So well said: “My children know I love them as much as I can love; I hope that when my time comes I have the opportunity to tell them one more time. I promise I won’t skip the chance.” I feel this, too…thanks for articulating it so clearly.

  106. junglemomma says:

    Thanks for sharing. Parenthood is a high calling, perhaps the highest, and it carries so much weight and responsibility. I’m thankful for His ever-increasing grace in this journey! I hope when I come to die, my daughters know who their mama was and what she was all about.

    • Thank you for reading. His grace has been more than evident in our family; somehow we raised three children to adulthood, though I initially felt you couldn’t find a more unfit candidate for parenthood than me. And we are thankful for His provision throughout; He is so good! I pray your daughters will always have a good relationship with you.

  107. macphersona says:

    Your post is simply an unspoken truth, a truth that very few are willing to talk about whether in a blog or in person. I am a college student in Wisconsin, son to two amazing parents, and one of the greatest older brothers (at least to me) in the world. Your post really hit home as I read and recalled all the conversation I have had with both of my parents throughout my college career, ranging from the stresses of my schedule (being a student athlete, keep up with school and work, all while trying to salvage some sort of social life) to just the random happenings of the day. I also recalled all the times my brother would call me just to see if I would be in town so we could get a drink or just sit around and hang out. My mother has always told my brother and I that we should hang onto the great relationship we have because although normal to us it is a rare accurance. I am truly blessed to have such a great relationship with both my parents and my brother. Thank you for this great reminder and coming from a kid, although sometimes it may seem like your children don’t want you around they always appreciate it, and always will!

    Carpere Soles (seize the sunshine),


    • Good for you.I still have almost all of my family in town, and we get along very well. I’m happy for you and your relationships with parents and your brother. My brothers and sister are all super important to me. Thanks for reading my post; best of luck juggling all the balls.

  108. Awesome post. 🙂 Thank you for sharing! …following your blog…

  109. ShaneWozEre says:

    “I can say I loved my father. I just didn’t know him very well, or perhaps knew him too well and didn’t like him all that much.” this beautiful oximoron is a beautiful way of summing up your relationship with your father. As someone who has been equally blessed and ignorant of how I’ve had such a solid family structure; without divorced or angry or overworked parents; stories like this are a glimpse of a world that I did not experience.

  110. Ed Voyles CDJR says:

    Brought us to tears, couldn’t stop reading! Extremely moving thank you for sharing

  111. Thank you so much for sharing this. What a touching post. I have a similar relationship with someone in my life. God bless.

  112. James' Stuff says:

    Thanks for sharing. I have little sympathy for corporate types with narcissist tendencies who work and work and save and save, all along investing nothing into their families, then wonder why their kids want little to do with them. This may not having any bearing to your former situation, but it just reminds me how silly people are.

  113. pinkcamojeep says:


    Love your blog
    wanted wanted to argue with your tagline:
    “Making Absolutely No Difference in Today’s World”
    Not true.
    Thanks for your words.
    I posted a link on my FB wall.
    More people need to hear your words.
    Thanks for writing.
    {{hugs}} and blessings,
    – k@ren

  114. Hoe says:

    Your dad must have felt miserable in the hospice. He probably felt that he could have done more for all of you too.

  115. Rebekah says:

    Transparency makes the best posts. Real. Heartfelt. Vivid.

    I’ll never understand why it’s so hard to talk about the issues that matter most to the ones we hold closest. I pray the Lord gives you peace about your dad’s salvation and I praise God you took away such a positive lesson from his lifetime.

  116. John Zimmer says:

    Very nicely written – straight from the heart. It’s funny but just this morning I finished a wonderful short memoir entitled “Between Panic and Desire” by Dinty Moore, whom I met at the Geneva Writers’ Conference in Switzerland. A lot of it has to do with his relationship with his father. It is at times funny and poignant. I suspect that you would like it.

    Thanks again.


  117. I am left speechless after reading this. So many things are going through my mind right now. Where do I begin?

  118. hilaryisaac says:

    This post struck a chord and for obvious reasons. While father-son relationships are very important to establish and nurture, I think that father-daughter relationships are too. I think though that my Dad is trying to make up for lost time, but work keeps him busy and away most of the time. I love what you wrote in the end about how your wife and children know you love them. I’m a single mum and even though I shower my son with all the love in the world, one day, he’s going to need a father figure to look up to and give him a fatherly love. But I trust that our Heavenly Father knows the time and means for that person to come into our lives. Great post; God bless you 🙂

  119. MaryAnne says:

    Poignant post. Made me reflect my own relationship with my father.

  120. audrakrell says:

    I have a similar story, parents divorced when I was 14, don’t remember him being at my concerts or games. He remarried at 16, but didn’t tell me, my cousins did. He moved to AZ. Then, 10 years later, God moved me to AZ. He kind of tried to make up for lost time, but now lives 13 miles away and I haven’t seen him in years, or talked to him. Sometimes I wonder if I’m the selfish one, but then I try to honor him through prayer and forgiveness. Yours is a great post, I can feel your anguish but love that you see what God wants you to know.

    • Not to make assumptions, but your dad sounds like a…not very nice person? We are called to forgiveness and it’s good of you to pray for him; the fact that you can both forgive and include him in your prayers speaks volumes about your character. God bless you!

  121. Joyce de vivre says:

    Hi Rich, I don’t want to miss this chance of congratulating you and for saying thank you for a poured and honest heart that you have. You remind me that time is precious and only God knows our end. I missed the feature last weekend since we just got the normal internet connection now after the earthquake aftershocks. Thank you for praying for me and my family, we are safe and sound in God’s hands. May God continue to use you and your blog to encourage readers like me and may He continually bless you and your family! God bless 🙂 Congratulations!!! (I think I missed the celebration but it’s better late than never :D)

  122. papakofi says:

    My parents are getting older and one of my greatest fear is losing them because i love them so much but i know its one of those inevitable things, but i also know that God is in control and only HE can decide when the right time is. That gives me comfort in the sense that i know what my wish is, but i know also that God has the last word and there is nothing any human can do about it when that time. My prayer is that my parents know how deep i and will forever love them when that time comes. Thanks for sharing, i was touched and i have learned to remind my parents each day through words and more importantly through my actions that i love them so much.

  123. great post that connects with many of us . I lost my father when i was 20, now at 32 there have been many times I’m had a new appreciation for some of the things he told me. That can be sad as there is no longer the chance to converse on a higher level, but I like to think of it as a way he somehow lives on, as what he impressed upon me is slowly being unlocked.

    • I think it’s cool that your dad lives on for you in his teachings; some of the things he told you are now playing out for you in your life. It shows not only that he was wise, but that you listened. Good for you.

  124. Isaac Milton says:

    Thanks for sharing your story. I carry some similar hurts from my father, and am dedicated to not repeating that with my wife and children.

  125. forefoot says:

    Your honesty is touching. I could somehow relate to a lot of things you’ve written…and would be saying the same dialogues you could have said.

    I’m glad to have read your story. Thanks for sharing this.

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