Friday, June 16, 2006

Father's Day

My father passed away 10 years ago in May. He was only 66. He had suffered a minor heart attack a few days earlier. The doctor was going to release him, but he 1st had to pass a stress test. While on the treadmill, my dad suffered a massive heart attack and died.

There were contributing factors to him being in such bad physical condition. For one, my dad was a smoker. But also, my dad was a recovering alchoholic who had abused his body for 40+ years.

As a child, I had good memories of my dad, because it seems that every weekend we were either going fishing or golfing together. But at about the age of 12 it began to sink in to me that he wanted to be with me so that he could get away from my mom and drink. So at that point, I became embittered toward my dad -- feeling like he was using me for his selfish pursuits.

When he reached his 50s, my dad's addiction began to affect his work. He worked for IBM for 42 years, and had moved up the ladder of middle management. But then, he received a couple of demotions. Finally, IBM gave him an untimatum: Get treatment for your addiction or be terminated.

So, at the age of 59 my dad went into treatment, and turned his life around. He retired a couple of years later. He went to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) nearly every day. It became his passion -- serving others. He went into the jails and helped struggling alcoholics and drug addicts. In fact, he brought several of them to the Lord. His life began to reflect a beautiful peace as he surrendered it more and more to the Lord.

I will always treasure the letter my dad wrote me during this period of his life. He apologized for the way he had used me. He expressed sorrow for not having been a better dad. He told me how proud he was of me.

Today, I am an ACOA (Adult Child of an Alcoholic), which I have discovered through research brings with it a lot of baggage. But I don't resent my dad. In fact, I am so proud of the way he left. His whole life was tormented by some demon -- and I may never fully understand what it was. But he went out well -- and I am realizing more each day just how important that is.

I miss you, Dad. And I'm proud of you.

3 comments:

JRoss said...

Rick,
I was unaware that Dad gave you a letter too. I received a similar letter asking forgiveness. He began with, "May I introduce myself to you as the father you never had." Even as I type this, my tears remind of my "fatherless childhood", but my heart doesn't ache near as much as it once did because I know he left a different person.

Josh Ross said...

Rick and John, thank you for sharing with me memories of my grandfather. This is a special day to read this blog.

Beverly Ross said...

John, Happy Father's Day!
I couldn't be prouder of you two brothers and the healing work you have done! Praise the Lord, the Great Healer and the Lifter of our heads!
Rick, I have loved co-parenting with you! Thank you for teaching our children so many valuable life lessons! You are an amazing man!