This guy inspired the character of Billy Cole in my first published novel, The What If Guy, though his life was much different. He eventually moved away from the tiny town of Fairfield, and explored places like Asia and South America. He, like Billy, was funny and craggy. He was a red neck, albeit a worldly one. He cared about his kids, but didn't show it the way he likely wanted to be able to. He was funny, and angry, and dry, and confusing, and wise, and dark. He was smart, but agonizingly self sabotaging.
He didn't like me all the time. But he loved me all the time. I didn't like him all the time either. But I loved him all the time.
Our relationship wasn't what I wanted it to be, and it didn't get fixed in time. When he died, it left a hole in me so deep, so gaping, that I'm floundering. This grief is unexpected, but worthwhile. My resentment and anger has consumed me, but its all sort of mixed in with this deep, unwavering love--which I guess all kids have for their folks. It's like this weird melting pot of emotion that I'm having an awful time processing. My brothers are able to set aside any resentment and rage, just focusing on the love and respect. I wish I could do that. Maybe I will eventually. There's just so much of it all. I feel bogged down and drowned in it all, even the good feelings.
I never knew why we couldn't get in synch. It wasn't for a lack of trying. I tried for years, until the effort and demands became to great, and the payoff too small. So I bowed out. I wish I'd not done that. Though at the time I'd thought it was the right choice. Maybe it was. Who knows. All I do know is: he taught me to laugh--deep belly laughs that make you snort and fart. He taught me to cast (10 and 2, 10 and 2...). He taught me to look at people who underestimated me and tell them where to stick it. He taught me how to swear. He taught me how to try, and try harder. He taught me to find huckleberries. He tried to teach me math. And he is teaching me--now that his life has ended--that regret is infinitely worse to come to terms with than accepting an apology that would never come.
Always accept the apology that will never come, otherwise you'll find yourselves with a sh*t ton of regret, friends.
Enjoy your peace, Dad. You've certainly earned it.