Not So Bad

originally posted on the resting VSOM

My poor dead dad. I’ve blogged him to death. I’ve written him to death too as he was the theme of all my angsty teenage poetry and short stories. The recap: my parents divorced with I was 9. He died when I was 13 of complications of Type I diabetes. He was also bipolar and very unreliable. He was pretty bad at being a dad, and then he died. But 20 years is a long time to work things out. I care about him a lot now and I see more clearly the circumstances under which he was working and failing as a father. 

Mostly, I haven’t had a father. No surrogate fatherly figures. I have older brothers but luckily they were just brothers and not fathers to me. No bishops or home teachers or Sunday School teachers who felt called to take me under their wing in order to be a “father” to me. When I was pumped with hormones as a teenager, I thought I was very pitiable. My problems were due entirely to my fatherlessness. It was the state that was so bad, I didn’t even know to mourn him as a person until my 20s. 

I don’t know if I like it or hate it now, but I don’t mind my fatherlessness one bit. I’ve got issues, no doubt about it, but I know just as many people with living fathers, involved fathers that have issues too, even some of them have the same issues that I do. I don’t know how those people got screwed up but clearly no-dad status isn’t the only thing that will make you need a therapist. 

I hope everyone has two parents that love them. Or at least like them. I hope they have parents that pay attention. I hope everyone can know their parents. But if they don’t, life’s not so bad. I mean, you might turn out like me. 

I celebrate my dad this father’s day. Maybe I’ll build him a shrine. With a viola, some hiking gear, some microwaved bologna and a sign that says: “You didn’t really screw me up that bad, Dad. I love you.’


  1. I found this great old photo of me and my dad at an air show and I brought it with me to Peru. If I can get this dumb scanner to work, I’ll put it with the post.

    Happy Fathers Day everyone!

  2. We put so much pressure on parents to be these perfect people who don’t screw up their kids. But they aren’t perfect and all of us can use therapy no matter how good or bad they were. I wish the pressure could go away. Its taken me into my 30s to appreciate their faults and weaknesses and see them as people who are just trying the best that they can.
    Glad to read an Amri post again. :)

  3. “You didn’t really screw me up that bad, Dad. I love you.”

    When all is said and done, that’s all I really want my kids to say, too. Beautiful Amri.

  4. Kevin Barney says:

    If there’s any lingering measure of having been screwed up by your fatherlessness, it sure isn’t apparent to me.

    A tip o’ the mug to your pop.

  5. Amen, Steve and Kevin.

    Thank you for this, Amri.

  6. very nice.

  7. Amri:

    I have witnessed my own father’s transformation in how he deals with the memory of his father and the forgiveness he now freely extends him. It has been a powerful lesson to me in how I ought to forgive others.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on your father.

  8. Amri, this is really great to read. Thanks for the perspective.

  9. aloysiusmiller says:

    The older we get as fathers the more we project our desire to be perceived as good fathers on to our fathers. It is, in the end, kind of healthy.

  10. I found a person at Myspace who is the child of a guy I knew when I was a kid, who has since died, a troubled soul. The son had pictures of his family such as it is. He had one spot that said “dad” and in that spot was a mug shot of his dad, that’s all he had. It got me thinking of a post I did a while back:


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