I was watching Kelly Clarkson sing "Piece by Piece" and started crying. That song touched me very deeply, like I know it did for a lot of women.
My father left when I was eight years old and was barely a part of my life again until I was thirty. Now, almost 20 years later I'm his 24/7 caregiver. He suffers from Alzheimer's and when the time came I stepped up and made the commitment to care for him. He's my father. I love him and I forgive him. That doesn't negate the fact that I grew up essentially fatherless. I was abandoned, and yes there are issues that come from those hurtful feelings that I've had to deal with over the years.
My father and I were able to discuss everything well before the Alzheimer's took hold. He's a wonderful man and a great friend, but he was a lousy father. He knows that and has acknowledged it.
One day I was especially exhausted, having spent the day out to doctors, and generally taking care of him without a break. I thought about how I have done more for this man in the past four years than he's done for me in almost fifty. It saddened me. We both missed out on what could have been a beautiful relationship. What we have now is more of a caregiver/patient relationship. Partly because of how difficult it is to be a caregiver for a parent, so I need to take a step away from being his daughter both emotionally and mentally in order to care for him in the best way he needs.
Listening to this song got me thinking that the man that renewed my faith in fathers was my brother. He is a wonderful father. He gives his sons the love and emotional nourishment that him and I never received. My father agrees. I wonder how it feels for him, seeing through his son and grandsons what he could have had. We've past the point in the Alzheimer's of my being able to ask him and trust his answer. I do know that he sees it. Even before the Alzheimer's he's always commented on what a great father my brother is.