Being Right or Doing the Right Thing?

To say that I have been in a royal funk all week would be an understatement. I attributed my malaise to having to run indoors and the 100 plus inches of snow that the Boston area has had in the past few weeks, but today I realized it is something more than meets the eye. My dad’s birthday is this week and the anniversary of his death is 5 March. His loss, coupled with Phil’s loss, took out the men I turned to and needed in my life. People know how Phil and I stood together as one, but with my dad it wasn’t so simple.

For many, many years, most years, my father and I had a relationship where we couldn’t find a common ground. I took everything he said personally and we fought over faith, choices, and I felt we were just too different to have a deep connection. My father was a bit of a hot head and I retreated versus working to find a place we could meet. It wasn’t until Phil died that my father and I found what I had needed and given up on. We became friends in my darkest hour because the roles were reversed. It simply broke his heart that he couldn’t fix the hurts in his daughter.

My father was never the same after Phil’s death. He was softer and he was more demonstrative. He talked and he listened to me. He never once pushed back when our opinions differed. Sure, he voiced his thoughts, but the raw vulnerability of my shattered heart, my father’s grief at not only having lost Phil, but watching his daughter broken and knowing there was nothing he could do to fix the pain, brought us both to a place where we began to appreciate and value the time and relationship we had together. I wish I hadn’t waited 49 years to try to find the man my father was because he was always there, but like my dad, I am stubborn.

The last summer I spent with my parents, I pushed my dad to go for his check up only because his back hurt so much and he was unable to go fishing, boating, or work in the garden the way he liked to. I never expected a terminal diagnosis at Christmas and a death by 5 March. I thought that I would have more time to turn to my dad for advice. I thought that there would be more time for him to teach me and show me the things I shunned for so many years. I waited too long. While I am thankful that Phil’s death gave me the dad I wanted and it gave him the daughter he needed, I look back and wonder why we couldn’t have come to that place before death put us there. It was that simple. I valued my father versus making a stand. I was entitled to my opinions just as he was, but by withdrawing I missed far too many years.

As I remember what would have been my dad’s 74th birthday on Tuesday the 24th and I mark the second year of his death on 5 March, I stand having learned that people matter more than being right. I stand a better version of my old self for I forgive easier and I make more of an effort with the people I love now. Having said that, I blew it at the end to be the daughter I wanted to be. I shut down on every front when dad got sick. It was a little more than one year after Phil was killed and the unexpected terminal diagnosis came during Christmas week—one of my hardest weeks. I had just moved to MA and I had a job that was unforgiving at the time. I should have done better, should have chosen my dad more often, and I should have given my heart more. I just couldn’t, but somehow I know that my dad knew and loved me any way because in the end he knew his daughter.



  1. […] Being Right or Doing the Right Thing?. […]

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