Age changes us all

ImageGrowing up, my relationship with my father was always ‘hit and miss’. Sometimes he was in my life and sometimes he wasn’t. Many times it was through absolutely no fault of my own. Sometimes it was my choice.
His marriage to my mother ended when I wasn’t even 10. It is what it is. This post isn’t about their marriage. It is about my perspectives on my relationship with my father.
We are not close. We never have been. However I feel closer to him now that I am nudging a half century than I ever have.
I wonder why that is?
It doesn’t mean that I love my step-father any less. He has always been there for me and continues to be there for me.
I am blessed to have two men in my life to call ‘father’. Many do not have even one.
I guess that is where this post comes from.
Yesterday, I attended my niece’s wedding. There were not many from her father’s side of the family. Again… It is what it is and this post isn’t about families.
My father gave my niece away because her father left us too many years ago to recall. And the pain is still there with that loss.
She carried her father on her bouquet. A photo of her at her first birthday being held in his arms. She lit a candle to remember him during the ceremony.
And I cried. Because I also miss my brother.He would have been so proud of her.
After the ceremony, I saw my father as a human being. I saw him as aging. I saw him grieving. I held him as he sobbed uncontrollably and then wiped the tears from his face and from my own eyes.
I have never seen him cry. Not like that.
This was a side to the man that I have never seen.
I often wonder why that is.
Many years ago, I was required to do an assignment on cultural awareness as part of my studies. I chose the Hungarian culture since that is my heritage. I learned so much from it. Pieces of the jigsaw puzzle clicked into place and I could say “That’s why he did this…. said that…. acted in this way”. Things began to make sense.
My father was a big presence in the life of my nieces after the loss of their father. I saw that relationship last night at the wedding and it was beautiful to see.
I feel guilt that my own children don’t have that same kind of relationship with my father and I know that is in part because of my relationship with him.
He often says to me “You never pick up the phone” and I reply “You own a telephone too”.
I guess the difficulty is that I can see so much of myself in him. We are so very much alike in our stubborness. We can both be arrogant and selfish.
But every so often, his veneer cracks and I see him – the person.
I recall the morning I was at work and he called me to say that his wife (my step mother) had passed away and he was sitting beside her hospice bed and didn’t want to leave her to go and get a coffee. He asked me to come and help. And I did. I arrived almost two hours later and sat with her whilst he went to get a coffee because he didn’t want her to be alone. I sat with him as he planned the funeral. I gave the eulogy at her funeral. I stood with him.
And then we drifted once more.
He now has a beautiful Hungarian lady in his life. She is so gentle and has accepted every one of my father’s family as part of hers. Her family has become a part of ours also.
Yesterday I stood with my father once more in his grief – and joy.
Because that is what families do.
And so as I age, I realise that he is more than 20 years ahead of me and time is not standing still for either of us.
So as he hugged me goodbye last night, he told me that he loved me.
And I replied
“I love you too”.


43 thoughts on “Age changes us all

  1. Beautifully written Sue. Our relationships can be so complicated- I understand what you wrote about- as I too had an on again off again relationship with my father. We also were very much alike. I was glad that I reconnected with him the last 5 years of his life- I was able to see past the person that I had fought with, see his human side once again. I think it is an understanding that comes with age- we need to let go of some of the past, not stand on ceremony, get over the past hurts, because the time is moving forward and it why waste what is left on things that took place in the past. I am glad for you to have had this opportunity to see your father in another light.


  2. I think as we grow and change it is easier to see and understand why others made the choices / displayed the actions they did. Its about realising too, we can’t go back to create that magical place we wanted to be in , but we can take the ‘now’ and enjoy it for what it is. I sense those three words are just too hard for some to utter. Perhaps a good relationship doesn’t have to be seeing each other all the time but just knowing you are there for each other when needed. I don’t know 🙂


  3. So beautiful.

    Just this week my sister and I were talking about what a grumpy old man our father has become. I now look back on that conversation with a little more compassion (for him, even though I don’t condone the worst of his behaviour).

    Last time my mother visited, she told me something about my father which helped me understand him so much – a bit like your investigation into Hungarian culture helped you understand your father.

    As we grow older, I guess we do come to understand that we really do only have limited time together.

    Thanks again. X


  4. This post could almost be about my own father and me. I have helped him through some hard times, too, like you, when his wife died, when he had back surgery. We talk about once a month, but it is mostly him talking and me half listening, him telling stories that I’ve heard a million times, him not asking me anything about my life, about his granddaughters. But it’s gotten better over the years. I see him trying. And I feel what you are feeling, that pressure to make it better as more and more time goes on and there is less and less of it left. I think he feels it, too. Great post!


  5. Luckily, time also gives us perspective. My relationship with both my parents is better in the last ten years than it ever was. Thanks for sharing this beautiful story!


  6. Our relationship with our parents is a strong one, perhaps the strongest of all. One can never escape from it, or deny it, if that is what one chooses. Many people have healthy, close relationships with their parents, and that is the community’s expectations. But it is not always so, and one must not be made to feel bad because each family is different. Sometimes, loving someone requires us to let go, rather than stick around when things don’t work. Perhaps in time, such as you have found Suz, these paths may cross, again, and intertwine. But I see my parents in my mannerisms, in my children’s mannerisms, and I hear my mother’s voice in mine. It is inescapable. It is what it is, and you are what you are. What a lovely story of you reconciling with your father. The family ties are strong, physically and emotionally.


    1. I look at the photo of us and I can see where my looks came from 🙂 I hear my mother’s voice in mine.
      I certainly understand what you are saying about the parental relationship.


  7. What a beautiful story. I don’t have a close relationship with my father. I don’t think I’ve seen his vulnerability and I will say that I’m not sure I want to. It’s something I struggle with and detach from. Your story made me feel a bit of forgiveness in my heart and I think I will call him today. hugs


  8. My father passed on a year ago. I don’t think I was even close to him. He had big problems letting anyone into his heart.

    I’m so glad for you, Suzanne. Being able to be close to your father must be so wonderful. Enjoy every moment with him twice for me.


  9. The most important sentence in the English language, all of three words: I love you. Said, heard, and felt far too infrequently.

    As a thought, might I suggest the possibilities that your depression and issues with your father are related? An impairment in your ability to love your father might be related to an impairment in your ability to love yourself in a good and non-narcissistic manner.

    Perhaps solving one will result in remedying the other. Unconditional love, after all, is unconditional love.


  10. Your post touched a cord with me Sue, how long does it take for a daughter, to come to terms with her fathers choice in partner. After 24 years marriage and divorce I am still the bad man.
    I am hoping that years will bring wisdom to my daughter, but by that time I am aged.
    Sad how some things turn out.
    Wishing you well Sue


    1. Ian, that must be so painful for you. I’m so sorry.
      You know sometimes a person won’t change unless they want to. It took me quite some time to forgive my father and I’ll be honest that I don’t think my mother is entirely happy with my decision however I needed to do this for my own peace of mind.
      I truly pray that the day comes when your daughter has an ‘aha moment’ and realises that life is too short to hold grudges and comes back to you.


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