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My father the stranger

Had some time to think over the weekend, about life in general. Got to thinking of one of the heirlooms that my sister presented to me after our Dad died a few years ago. It was a scarf I had never seen. Ever. It was dark blue, hand-knitted, and had a faded paper tag sewn in to one corner where Dad had scrawled his name.

According to my sister, Dad had worn that scarf for years... all the time that cold weather came around. It was news to me, and I had actually lived with my parents through several winters as I grew up. Never saw the scarf, never heard a word about it. But the story behind it really floored me. It was a present from my Dad's first wife... the English woman he married before the war. Apparently, the marriage broke apart while Dad was away sailing around the world in service to the Crown. He kept the scarf to protect him from the cold and remind him of his first love. A love he NEVER mentioned to me. Not even when I sat down with him to ask his advice when I was considering seeking a divorce myself.

Apparently, Dad had some sort of problem with telling me about important things that had happened in his life before I came on the scene. Oh, he was full of stories about the war. And about growing up in poverty in rural England in the 20's. But this marriage and divorce... he decided to take that to the grave with him, so far as I was concerned. He shared the information about this part of his life with my sister while she cared for him in his final years. Most likely with our mother as well. But he shut me out of it.

I got to thinking about that this past weekend as I played games and chatted with my own son. So far as I can recall, he knows my full biography, more or less. I consider him a great adult friend, and I have shared everything I could share with anyone. Naturally, there are things in my memory that I would not share with anyone. But regarding the major events of my life, I've been fully open. And that helps me feel pretty good about my relationship with my family.

I often think about my father, in an effort to find ways to better my own parenting efforts. And hopefully, my grand-parenting efforts down the road. Some things about him, I admire and try to emulate. Other things, I view as errors on his part, for whatever reason, and I try always to avoid repeating those errors. My advice is not to take anything to the grave with you, unless there's a very good reason for it. There's no reason to withhold the fact that your marriage history isn't perfect -- particularly not from an adult offspring. It might feel a little embarrassing to share the fact that you're not perfect -- but I think it'd be worse to be a stranger to your child.
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SouthernFriedInfidel
 

There's never any love like your first love.

I can only speculate that perhaps your gender came in to play in this. Men don't open up to their own gender, especially male offspring- it's a sign of weakness... especially with the older crowd. The patriarch has to be an authoritative, final, and omnipotent word.
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Liv
 



Perhaps. Which is (I hope) another pitfall that I have avoided in my own parenting effort.
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SouthernFriedInfidel
 




Perhaps because he was that way, it's why you are that way.

I love my father dearly, but it took 30+ years for me to realize that while I should always consider his wisdom, he wasn't always right. Every decision I make, still to this day runs through the "dad filter" but the difference is now, I'm able to ignore that filter.
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Liv
 

While I found out from my aunt one time when she mentioned it in front of me with a conversation with my mother, to this day my father has never told me about his first love experience. I've often wondered about the controversial details but I have never asked him. For some reason he has chosen to keep it a secret and I don't even believe he is aware I know of it. I don't know if he ever will. It is interesting to me that my open honesty about my relationship has basically banished me from my own family while every single one of them have secrets about their past. My difficulty with them is about their show of shame for me, ironically I would never change my opinion of them for events of their past which I am aware of. They can air every detail about my life with distain in public but mum's the word on theirs.
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shannon
 


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