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 “Our fathers had their dreams: we have ours; the generation that follows will have its own. Without dreams and phantoms man cannot exist.” Olive Schreiner

I Miss What I Never Truly Had

My son, Lewis, top, taking time to enjoy his son, Scott, one of his four children. Scott, by the way, leaves for Marine boot camp tomorrow. Happy Father’s Day Lewis — and good luck Scott. — Photo by Pat Bean

My father died in 1975. He was only 62. As he lay in his bed, suffering from emphysema and a stroke, he pantomimed to me that he wanted a cigarette. I replied that the doctor told him he couldn’t smoke.’

He reached for the pad beside his bed and wrote: “To hell with the doctor!”

I gave him a cigarette and sat by his side as he smoked it. He then went to sleep.

Two hours later, when I got up from watching a television program with my mother, and went in to the bedroom to check on him, he was dead.

A few days later, as I sat at his funeral, and when no tears would come, I realized my father had never been there for me.

He was always gone to work before I woke in the morning, and didn’t get home until well after I was in bed. And this went on seven days a week.  It wasn’t that my father worked long hours, it was that he played hard, drinking and gambling.

My son, D.C., left, with Jennifer and David, two of his three children, at Epcot. Happy Father’s Day. D.C. — Photo by Pat Bean

Many were the Friday nights that I listened to my hot-tempered mother scream and yell because my father had spent his pay check before coming home.

I was too young to understand the implications. So it was my mother I hated when I was growing up, instead of the person who was the reason why I went to school with holes in my shoes. It’s because my father was a happy person, even when drunk. There wasn’t a mean bone in his body. He was a true good-timing man.

I still remember the day my mother threw a beer bottle at my dad and knocked him unconscious. I thought he was dead. When he woke up, he just laughed about it, saying he deserved it.

I have no rancor toward my father, and thankfully my mother and I made our peace long before she died. But there is sadness in me that my father had so little time for me, and that he always stood me up when plans had been made.

But I’m truly glad I gave him that last cigarette.

Happy Father’s day Dad – wherever you are

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