This year, I lost my father.
Or at least I lost him from the ways I’ve known him — to be walking, talking, tossing out a joke, standing firm on a value, painting a picture, eating waffles, cooking pancakes, or sipping his very weak, highly watered-down “coffee” (not anywhere near my definition of coffee, but very weak, warm, coffee-colored water in a moose mug is how he liked his coffee).
My dad has been important to me, always was, always will be.
Because I work in the field of trauma, everyone asks, so I’ll just say it right up front — no, he did not abuse me — and yes, he truly was one of the good ones. He was not an abusive man in any way. He wasn’t perfect, he had his faults, but being a perpetrator-father was no where near the radar of who he was. He was a very good father, a faith-filled steadfast man, and I will always and forever cherish his many wonderful qualities.
In fact, for all my life, I experienced my father as very protective. Not at all dangerous, and never scary. He was strong, and yet kind. Firm about his rules and beliefs, (oh, I have so many stories about that), but he had a heart of gold and he gave the best big snuggly bear hugs.
He had many talents, he was a great artist, and he loved to sing (even though he didn’t have a great singing voice, he could belt out 20 verses of “There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea” better than anyone I knew!) He was willing to help anyone in any way that he could, from volunteering to renovate my house year after year to working with Habitat for Humanity / Disaster Relief after hurricanes. He grew up a farm boy, learning all kinds of skills and trades, then spent many years in housing-construction-concrete businesses, so the man could build or repair almost anything. OH, to have those skills! He had tools, LOTS of tools, and he certainly knew how to use them all!
My father painted these Saskatchewan landscape pictures for me many years ago. They are near and dear to me, as he created these works of art with his own hands.
My dad gave me the childhood that I wish all of you had. His special, unique recipe for melt-in-your-mouth pancakes made many years of Sunday morning breakfast memories a dear favorite. He was there — busy in our lives, actively parenting and caring. He wasn’t someone who hurt me — he was someone who cared for me and protected me in all kinds of ways. As a teenager, I suppose I could have rebelled from some of his 50-million rules for me, but I didn’t feel the need to do that. I knew he was making his many strict guidelines that were, in his opinion, for my safety and protection. I appreciated the safety, and felt a deep respect for him — that meant I didn’t feel the need to fight his guidance. I knew he had my best interests at heart (even if I didn’t get to go to those late-night parties!).
In fact, in the very last weeks of his life, even when he was at his weakest in physical abilities, I still experienced my father’s protection and determination to keep me safe. Even when he could barely speak or stand, he showed his willingness to help in complicated situations and he offered his spiritual guidance to others during times of trouble. All of my life, he followed these principles, and what a strong statement that says about him. He truly did his best to practice what he preached. (And yes, if you haven’t heard the whole story of my dad, he was a preacher and a church-planter for 40+ years.)
Unfortunately, here on this blog, in the comments, and in the forums, as typical in the world of trauma survivors, there are so many “bad-dad” stories. Tons of bad-dad stories. Ooooodles and gobs of them. Far too many because yes, far too many fathers were abusive, mean or cruel to their children. That breaks my heart.
My father was different.
He really was one of the good guys.
In fact, one of his greatest accomplishments was successfully fighting to raise the age of consent in the Canadian Parliament. Instead of allowing the age of consent to drop to age 8 (oh, for goodness sakes!), he was able to push the legislation through to increase the age of consent from 14 to 16. I don’t know if Canada still holds this law, or if it has changed yet again, but there was a time when my father actively fought for increased safety and protection of children in an entire nation. Proud of ya, Dad, for that victory!
If it weren’t for my father, I wouldn’t be here, at Discussing Dissociation, doing this work.
My father was a genuine inspiration to me, and his teachings have had a lifelong impact on me. He passed a strong faith to me, and taught me to have the courage to fight against darkness and evil. He knew it was important to help others, to sit with their pain, to share all that you had, and to join in the fight for their spiritual freedom and security. So while you most likely didn’t get the opportunity to meet my dad, you can still see the influence he had because his solid teachings and strong stands against darkness have passed on through to me.
You may or may not remember that I have a music background. I started playing piano in church by age 9.
I won’t go into my whole musical history for you at this point, but let’s just say that by age 30, I am sure I spent way more hours sitting on a piano bench in my lifetime than I had spent walking!
So from a very young age, and for many, many years and years to come, my dad (the pastor) stood at the front of the church, preaching, and I sat at the piano, or the organ, playing all his favorite hymns. We were often a team, leading the way. But even at home, sitting in our living room, “Play me a song, Katie!” was a line I heard hundreds of times. Dad loved my music, and it was such a treat to play for him.
And, in the most fitting of ways, the very very last contact I had with my father here on earth was playing a version of “Amazing Grace” for him. His very last earthly moments with me were music-filled. Once again, we shared that musical bond. Such a powerful last moment… I will be forever grateful for that.
So, in honor of him, and to share a little of my music with you, here is a video of a practice session I had, the day before my father’s American Memorial. (Being a dual citizen of USA and Canada, he had memorial services in both countries.) I hadn’t realized this video was being recorded, but I am thankful that it was. I was sitting at the piano in the church that we attended when I was a small child, remembering my father, and practicing so I could manage playing this song at the memorial service. I was just hoping I could get through it without crying too much, so you know, I needed to practice it ahead of time. Some of my earliest memories of my father were here in this church. And then another church, and another, and another…. Oh, I could tell you dozens of stories…. My mind was flooded with all kinds of different things, that was for sure.
For now, I share with you, my variation of “Amazing Grace” — a song that tells the story of getting lost, being blind, then circling back around, getting found, and ending with “now I see”.
The day before my Dad’s memorial service…..
Thank you for listening.
In Amazing Grace, “I once was lost, but now I’m found. Was blind, but now I see.” And yes, although I lost my father in so many ways, and he’s no longer walking here on my streets, or near my house, and I can no longer see him, I will always find him — in the music. In our music. In every song I hear that was one of his favorite songs, or any of the songs that brings up memories of him, I will be able to hold his spirit near and dear to me. In that way, I will never lose my dad. He is in my heart, and I can feel him there. He’s not lost — he’s been found.
So this year, for Father’s Day 2022, instead of writing another article about abusive dads and childhood trauma, I had to write a short tribute to my father, and to point out to the world, that not all dad’s are bad. They most certainly are not. My dad helped to make the world a better place. He challenged me to continue that mission, and I pass that on to you as well.
If YOUR Father Has Passed…..
I’m sure I’m not the only one who has lost their father, this year, or in previous years.
- How do you handle your grief and loss?
- What did you do to help your heart-hurts?
- How many times have you told stories about your father to people who cared enough to listen?
- If your dad was an abusive man, what have you been able to do to come to terms with his passing?
- What are you going to do to continue to address the pain you carry?
- Do you let the different insiders of your system speak their different truths and experiences? I bet they don’t all think or say the same things!
What I know is that my father had a lifelong impact on me, and I have to assume your father had a massive impact on your life as well.
How are you managing all that? How are you feeling?
What do your insiders say?
What are y’all doing about all that this week?
I hope you have meaningful, healing, and helpful days ahead as thoughts and memories of your father surface for you and yours.
I wish you all the best in your healing journey, many hours of heart-filled comfort music, and safety from harm.
Copyright © 2008-2023 Kathy Broady MSW and Discussing Dissociation