Lessons Learned From My Long, Lost Father


I was 7 years old and remember him saying, “I’m going out for some cigarettes and will be right back.”

He never returned.

For years, I was angry about my father disappearing. How could a father do that to his family? Not even saying good bye.

There are people who suffer issues of abandonment when a parent vanishes. I was not one of them. I was simply perplexed.

There was a time I decided to search for him, checking online listings and asking around. But to no avail. He was not to be found.

There was a rumor within our family that he died in jail, drunk. It’s a likely scenario since one of the few things I remember was his alcoholism and smoking.

I also remember he hated to have his picture taken. I know this because in almost every picture, he is seen trying to wave off the photographer.

It has been almost half a century since that fateful day. But I remember it as though it was yesterday.

My dad was not a bad person. I recall the times he spent with me and my brother on vacations, and I certainly remember getting spanked by him! He was a tough disciplinarian, but in retrospect, that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

I learned to respect my elders.

And there were 3 other important things I learned from my dad that have proven incredibly valuable in my personal and business life.

You never know when your last moment will be spent with someone.

When my dad left for cigarettes, I didn’t know it would be the last time I would see him or talk to him.

It’s that way with all of us, and with everyone we know.

I was too young to figure out there were things I should have said to him, like “I love you” or “Have a great life.”

Those things were never said.

Today – we all have a chance to say the things we need to say, in case we never see that person again.

I learned to forgive

The anger I felt about my father leaving us, slowly and surely, transformed into forgiveness.

When you think about it, we’re all doing the best we can with what we know, and what we are thinking about at the time.

Lord knows what my father was thinking about when he decided to leave. But he had his reasons. He may have been blinded by alcohol, he may have just been a poor, lost soul.

And so, I forgive him.

I learned to love anyway

Finally, I have learned that even if someone does you wrong, you can still love them for other reasons.

You can love a person “just because.”

I love my dad, wherever he is, dead or alive, “just because” he is my father.

That’s a good enough reason for me.

Happy Father’s Day.

© 2016 Cory Robert Galbraith, All Rights Reserved.

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