I remember serving his first drink at six years old. Seagram’s 7 and water was his trademark. I got the glass from the cupboard, lifted the ½ gallon whiskey bottle onto the counter and slowly poured it into the cup. Then I topped it off with some water, just like he liked it.
Alcohol or Me?
You see, if I made his drinks for him, he would love me. My own thinking. Maybe I wouldn’t have to compete with the alcohol. Maybe he could have us both. That wasn’t the case.
I don’t have many memories of my dad without the smell of whiskey in them. As I write this, I am picturing him taking a sip as drops fall off his mustache back into the cup.
I grew up believing my dad loved alcohol more than me. If I could just fix whatever I was doing wrong he would stop drinking. I wanted to be perfect for him. Just when I thought things were going well and he was going to be my daddy, I would smell the whiskey again.
I Crave His Actions More than Words
He always told me he loved me, whether drunk or sober. But it didn’t take long for his words to simply become just that – words. I craved his actions to show it. There were occasions that happened. Like the time he stayed by my bedside for months after I was in a car accident. I look back on that tragic time and count it as a blessing for many reasons, one being that it kept my daddy sober long enough to be my daddy.
Someday he would love me. Someday he would choose me over whiskey. Someday he would put his pills down and invest his time in a relationship with me. Someday.
Again I Lost…
Fast forward to 2009. I sat in an empty room after everyone shuffled out with my dad’s ashes in my hand. All I had left of my dad was a fishing pole and a box of ashes. His choices in life had finally gotten the best of him and I lost out, again.
I forgave him on his deathbed and when he said the words, “I love you” I knew he meant it. I know he did. He was broken and he didn’t take the steps to be set free from that brokenness. I’m still healing and praying that someday it will get easier. I miss him. I miss what we never had. I miss the father I always wanted.
A Father’s Love at Last
But here’s what I do have: a Heavenly Father that adores me. A God that loves me with an everlasting love. I’m the apple of his eye. Someone who will never leave me because he promises. He loves me for me. I don’t have to prove my worth to him. His grace is never ending.
I have the assurance that my daddy is with Jesus. He accepted him prior to his death. Someday our relationship will be completely restored. Someday I will get that father/daughter dance I’ve always craved. I look forward to it. I look forward to seeing my dad healed and healthy. I look forward to seeing a smile that isn’t masking the scars he carried all of his life.
For now, I wait. For now I bask in the love of my Jesus. There’s no greater feeling than that.
Sundi Jo is an author, speaker, and small business owner, making her home in Branson, Missouri. She blogs at sundijo.com. Her first book, Dear Dad, Did You Know I Was a Princess?, comes out next year. You can read her first eBook, Step Away from that Diet: Ten Steps to Losing Weight and Gaining the Confidence You’ve Been Searching For now. You’ll find her engulfed in the social media world, spending time with friends and family, hanging out in a pair of jeans, t-shirt, and flip fops, or writing. Find Sundi Jo on Facebook or Twitter (@sundijo).
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* Photo credit: Dean White (Creative Commons)