I got a letter from my dad today, which would not have arrived as such a great surprise had my father not died in 2004… and this letter had been written at least five years before that.
In the two pages of emotive prose, my father apologises, says that he loves me, and basically asks for forgiveness in a way that he would never have been able to do in person. He also left his address and phone number should I ever wish to get back in touch and rebuild a few of the bridges he had spent years burning.
At the end of the letter, in capitals, are the words EDDIE LIVES! It’s a phrase that means nothing unless you’ve seen Eddie & the Cruisers II… something which carries a crazy ironic weight, because that movie was about a famous singer presumed dead only to be discovered alive twenty years later.
Of course, I didn’t get the chance to reconnect because the letter was kept a secret from me for two decades. Maybe I wouldn’t have contacted him at all; or perhaps I would have done so just to tell him to fuck off. The truth is I don’t know how I would have reacted twenty years ago, but the point is, it should have been my decision to make, and not just another skeleton in an already bone-riddled closet.
Take the positive from this (hey you heard from your father again and he told you he loves you) and put away all the bitterness and regret. You can’t change the past or when you received the letter. You received it now so perhaps it is the right time.
My father died last July after a number of years of not speaking much and a year of not speaking at all. In hindsight, I was too focussed on his bitterness and stubbornness to notice my own. It’s more complicated than that though. He was a shitty human being and I decided that as an adult, I have the choice of doing without someone who only brought negativity in my life. It’s not selfish to look after yourself. In any event, I can’t change it as you can’t change your relationship with your dad. So, say thanks to your Dad and do better than he did to the people you love.
You’re right mate. If we all live life more selflessly than our parents, at least we’re moving in the right direction.