Much has been written about mother-daughter relationships; not so much about father-son relationships. There are good reasons for that - and I'm not going to buck the tide. If I started writing about the interweaving of my father's life and my own, I might never stop, so complex did it become through the years.
This I write simply in remembrance. My father was a good man, a gruff but quiet man, a man who was raised in a strict family and adopted some of the strict practices of that family. He worked all his life to make certain that his family was well-cared for. He accepted Catholicism for the sake of his wife, having no concrete beliefs of his own. He never did have convictions, and at the end of his life he was still searching for something to believe in. He questioned much but received few answers.
He was a rock-ribbed Republican, and he believed implicitly that the paternalistic party ideals of the time were the blueprint for how the country should be run.
He never quite understood, I don't believe, why his sons deviated from the way of life that he had so firmly tried to lay out for them. We were both, in our own ways, disappointments to him, and neither of us ever told him that he, in turn, had disappointed us. That is something we could never bring ourselves to tell him.
He was not a demonstrative man, but he loved my mother, and she loved him. Their love, too, was complex, and there were elements to it that to this day I don't completely understand. When they met and fell in love, the times and mores were different, and with the addition of my mother's fervent religious beliefs (and her dislike of men), it became a relationship that was . . . difficult.
Her death was very hard on him; the love my mother offered him did not quite conform to his notion of what ideal love should be, and to the end, he never really understood why he felt as if their relationship was incomplete.
He was a lonely man.
When he was diagnosed with cancer a little over two years ago, he didn't fight for life. He wanted, I think, to see and be with my mother again. He had always been proud of the fact that he had a seemingly iron constitution and rarely was afflicted with illness (although on those few occasions when he was sick, he was laid low.) He wasn't a man to admit weakness, and when he was overcome he thought it very unfair of life to treat him in such a fashion.
He is now reunited with my mother. I know this; I have been shown it in convincing fashion. It pleases me and gives me much hope when my time comes.
I hope you have resolved your uncertainties and received answers to your questions, Dad. I'll be seeing you.
Peace. And Happy Father's Day.