Ode to Papa – The Cross-over between Descriptors and History  

Descriptors of my father when young:

Gifted craftsman and carpenter/Quixotic


Emotionally absent/Pushed me away


Grass greener elsewhere

History – What I know now:

Always grieved Virginia, his first wife

Yearned for love and happiness

Found solace in alcohol/Fun-loving

Cared for my mother as she declined /His way of giving back

In the end, he gave me the greatest gift of all; his behavior allowed me to find my own way. At least that’s what my therapist, #4, used to tell me. I railed at his interpretation for years, feeling abandoned and fatherless most of my life. I especially wanted to blame Dad’s drunkenness, his parental unavailability, on ruining my relationships with men.

What I desperately wanted was a real hands-on father. I’d read articles about being a “father’s daughter,” men who nurtured their daughters, made them feel attractive and capable. I would have gladly taken the crumbs from under the table of a father’s daughter’s.

I’ve since made forgiveness a vocation and have put my past in its proper resting place. I tell the people I counsel that it’s okay to blame your parents for your problems, to be angry with them—for a while. Eventually, you must take responsibility for your own life—the good and the bad, as the unflinching Law of Cause and Effect slides into place.

In Robert Anderson’s play, I Never Sang for my Father, the protagonist says, “Death ends a life, but it doesn’t end a relationship.” I understand the meaning of those words now as I reframe the image of my father from neglectful alcoholic to a lost soul in search of meaning in the only way he knew how, not unlike me along my journey to spiritual wholeness.

My father, my papa, loved me in his way, on his terms.

Papa was my private, fantasy name for him, from the song, “Oh My Papa” . . . to me he was so wonderful. The fantasy lives on…


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