In the beginning, a parent, for the most part, dictates the relationship that they’ll have with their child. As the child matures and becomes an adult, it’s more 50/50.
I have had two fathers in my life. The first, of course, biological and the other, a step-father. As an adult, I chose to be distant from both. Neither possessed qualities that I liked or admired. One an alcoholic fighting his demons and the other, a dishonest man who “played games” with people’s minds.
The first passed away almost three years ago and the second, in late April of this year.
As a child and then an adult, I felt that I knew them well and that they, well, knew me.
When a parent dies, the “curtain” gets pulled back and you as their child, get to see how they really lived. If you’re curious enough, you look through the mountainous pile of paperwork left behind; bank statements, high school love letters, receipts and the 29 cent birthday card they bought sixty years ago. You find their box of knick-knacks, which to you, appears to be a box of miscellaneous odds and ends, but to them, each treasured item was a trip down memory lane.
If you’re thorough, you may have the rare joy of re-meeting your parents. Hopefully, as you sit amongst the enormous pile that chronicled their life, you are left uttering the words, “I had no idea…” and are pleasantly amazed.
But, peering behind the curtain can also be a double-edged sword.
The first peek left me with regret. We were more alike than I ever knew, both good and bad. I would liked to have known him better, but that, unfortunately, was not our way.
The second, I knew all too well and as I pulled the curtain tightly closed, I learned that with his death, the world is now, sadly, a better place.