Hope Wissel

Happy Birthday Dad

Father's Day

Remember that I said October was birthday month in our family?  Well, today is my Dad’s 84th Birthday!

Life with Dad wasn’t always easy – my dad was an alcoholic.  Yes, I know once an addict (alcohol or drugs) always an addict, right?  Growing up Dad worked a lot and at some really unusual jobs, now that I think back.

  • Mom and he worked at the local airport.  Mom worked in the office and dad in the monkey house.  Yup, that was what it was called.  He also used to transport cars down to Florida for Mr. Brown (the airport owner) then fly home on one of those little planes.  I thought the airport was my private playground.
  • He worked at a liquor store but not just your typical liquor store.  They would sell amazing furniture (bars, coffee tables, etc) that came from Mexico.  As a result, we got to go to Acapulco one summer for a “business trip”.  The summer of my first bikini.

Then there are some memories that stand out and have their own stories to tell:

  • Lots of Camping trips
  • Dad picking up my now hubby from the police station (maybe more than once)
  • Dad picking me up at Horner’s when I was late coming home from a date
  • Dad reaching out to his HAM radio buddies to help me with geography papers in school

Then there were the rough years when alcohol stole my dad from me.  He was not the dad who pulled me on the sled to visit my grandparents at Christmas.  He was not the Dad who worked tireless along side my mom to serve breakfast to over 300 kids after the junior prom.  He was abusive both physically and verbally to my mom.  Generally not a nice person – I won’t dwell on that because I have forgiven him but I don’t forget.  For 16 years, I was angry and then came Belinda and my addiction.

I will be eternally grateful for my Dad for a visit during my first few days in drug rehab in Pennsylvania.  Family members had told dad what was going on and despite the fact that I hadn’t seen or talked to him in almost 16 years – he came to see me.  In fact, I was supposed to be on blackout and he convinced them that this visit was important to my recovery.  He was right!  That was when the long road to recovery began not only from my addiction but to a relationship with my Dad.

I will never forget the smile on his or Belinda’s face the first time they met each other.  Belinda was about 2 1/2 years old. Then there was the birthday party where Belinda helped opened cards for Dad, only to announce when they had no money in them. Dad gave her a family male role model in her life.  She was blessed to be “adopted” by her best friend’s dad but this was different.  This is her Pop-pop.  From that time on, two holidays were always celebrated with Dad – Father’s Day or as Belinda always called it “Pop-pop Day” and Thanksgiving.

One of the blessings of my addiction was that I was able to forgive my Dad and have a relationship with him.  We still don’t see each other that much – a little more than 2 holidays a year but no matter what he is always the same.  Whenever I call and apologize for not being around his response is always the same “I know you are busy”.

The greatest gift was the day that he walked me down the aisle at my wedding.  I never thought the day would come (the wedding or dad being a part of it).  Dad was there – holding on to me as the realization that I was getting married sunk in and dancing that Father/Daughter dance despite the pain.  Memories that I will cherish forever.

Thank you Dad for your love and support.  The road may have been rocky but I learned so many things along the way. I love you and wish you many more birthday years.

birthday cupcake

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

1 thought on “Happy Birthday Dad”

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