When I was a little girl, I was completely in love with my dad. Everything about him, as seen through my eyes, was perfect. Charles Casas was a truly beautiful man to look upon. He was strong, tall and handsome, resembling James Garner to the point of being asked for his autograph by adoring fans. I might add that he always obliged and passed on telling them the truth regarding his true identity. Much like Superman and Clark Kent, I supposed at the time. This just made him even more amazing in my view. He was simply and in every sense of the word, my hero. That is, until I turned thirteen.
At thirteen, I learned some very unpleasant facts about my father. Nothing I will repeat here. After all, I am a parent and God only knows the damages I have inflicted upon my own children's lives. I can only pray they will show me the same mercy of silence someday. Anyway, everything changed for me the day I saw the other side of my father. Where I once loved and adored him, I now avoided him out of disappointment and disrespect. This went on for years. Even when I was older and married with children, I found it difficult to find any sense of closeness to my dad. I was decent enough to him, most of the time. I just couldn't stand him anymore.
Now, what I am about to say next will sound awful because in reality it is awful. I am going to say it anyway because sadly, it is the truth. There were times when I would comfort myself with the "fact" that my dad would, statistically speaking, croak before my mom. I had it all figured out. I was never his favorite kid so he would miss me no more than I would miss him. My mom, on the other hand, loved me. She and I had a very rocky relationship but at least it was an honest rocky relationship if nothing else. With apologies to Robert Burns, the best laid plans of mice and men often lead to your mother kicking the bucket first.
Three years after my mother died, my father moved in with me and my family. That was four long, grueling years ago. Let me be perfectly clear. From day one of my dad moving in, I have bent over backwards to make his life as comfortable and happy as possible. I have denied myself sleep, free time, friendship and even sex with my husband in order to take care of my dad. I have quit my job, allowed strangers in my home and cancelled vacations in order to put my dad first. Sounds saintly enough. Here's the rub, however. I have done it all with an angry heart. Up until now.
Somewhere along this journey, sometime in the last few months really, I have fallen in love with my dad for the second time. He is no longer a truly beautiful man to look upon. Now, he is a wrinkled, frail and oft times stinky, eighty-nine year old man. He has come to remind me of my boys when they were very little and frail and also oft times stinky. Oh, how I loved those boys then and how I love my dad now.