Recently, I came across a picture of my father and me. It was the last time I saw him. It was around 2012. Even then unfortunately, I knew how this story would end.
My father’s demons were his everyday companion, always ready and eager to steal from him any joy or happiness that he might find. They had arrived early in his life and they were with him until the end. That end came a year ago this October and he died in the worst way. He was alone.
Life had been cruel to him this last couple of years. My sister passed away and he began to unravel. He made choices that drove people away, choices that ultimately ended his life. His family lovingly tried, some more than others, to save him from himself. Ultimately the choice was his and he was tired. His demons and the alcohol were unrelenting.
I wasn’t always there for him. I didn’t want to be. Though I was his only son, I was most likely also one of his many demons. He desperately wanted our relationship to be different. A father and his son, but his drinking was getting worse and I was unwilling to endure his temper, his pain, his life. We were different and it was easier to stay away. I was not part of the loving family that surrounded him, my Aunt, Uncles, Cousins, Step-Mother and Sisters were. In the end, I was hundreds of miles away when my Step Sister told me that he was gone.
I now find myself reflecting on the last 10 years of our relationship. It is filled with distance and quick phone calls. He was always there for me but I was not for him. I made that choice. I’ll live with that choice. I accept that I could not have saved him, but it would have eased my conscience to have tried. I am thankful for those that did what I was unwilling to do.
I have his laugh and I miss him. I am slowly learning to appreciate what I once resented. He made mistakes, he was human and he was my father. In the end, we failed each other, him early and me later. He is gone now and his demons with him. He now lives peacefully in the memory of those who knew him and those who loved him.