Father’s Day, Addiction, and the Life of an Army Brat
Father’s Day is not an easy day for me, or one that I have ever necessarily looked forward to. Not only did I lose my father to lung cancer six years ago, he and I were never especially close. I always loved him, though I’m pretty certain I hated him, too, and I know he loved me, though not as much as I needed him to.
My dad and I had a complicated relationship throughout the twenty-six years I knew him. When I was a young child, long before I ever had a taste of booze, I would often find my dad passed out due to heavy inebriation. This would often result in my older brother and I calling grandma to come pick us up because my mother was working. We were under zero adult supervision. When I was fifteen, I found out my dad was also a prescription drug addict and thus began a tumultuous few years thereafter.
All of the above is the nutshell that reinforced some of my anger. As a teenager, my mother would often suggest I enroll myself in anger management. Her suggestions were more ridicule, only serving to exacerbate the anger. She was going through her own ups and downs what with an almost twenty-five year marriage ending in divorce. Her known financial struggles were added weight to the stress.
Since my dad’s passing and having close relationships with other addicts in my life, past, present, and future, I have developed a deeper sense of understanding. It would be nice to cultivate a relationship with him today based off of what I know now that I didn’t know then. Father’s Day is just an annual reminder of that inability.
One thing my dad and I did have in common was our traveling spirit. My dad’s was born out of obligation. As an army brat, he and his family were very mobile.
I once had the opportunity to “interview” him for a college English composition paper. He relayed a lot of information I already knew but some that was new to me including the loss of both of his big toenails whilst living on the big island of Hawaii. This misfortune occurred because he was bike riding barefoot. I always knew he lived in Hawaii for some time but his childhood stories of flying cockroaches deterred me from ever wanting to visit our fiftieth state. I’m happy to report I traveled against my fears and visited Kauai last year. Thankfully, I never came toe to toe with a flying cockroach. Pun intended.
My dad lived in many other places growing up with a father in the army. Some of those places included San Antonio, Texas, Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Venice, Italy. He had stories from all of the various locations. One of my favorites was his stint as a drummer in a band in Texas. He exclaimed that it was one of the best times of his life. If you knew my dad, you would know that he didn’t use such phrases lightly. Musically inclined – another quality my dad and I had in common.
If he were still alive today, I wonder if he would be proud of me? I wonder if my solo travel would instill him with a sense of fatherly pride or if he would ask me what he asked me when I told him I was moving to New York City from Los Angeles in the winter of 2011?
“Well, what in the hell are you doing that for?”
Happy Father’s Day, dad – Wherever you are. I’ll always love you.