It was a stormy spring day; the winds were blowing as the rain came down from the clouds in buckets. Julianne Marguerite knew that she would not be working in her garden today. With her one arm across her chest and the other one holding up her chin, she had a feeling that the day would be a gloomy one. She sat at her desk and decided to do the unthinkable…clean it; clear it out of unnecessary papers and mail to make room for the new clutter that was sure to come over the next few months. This didn’t take too long and as she turned the pages of her desk calendar to the correct date Julianne Marguerite noticed today was her father had passed away.
Julianne Marguerite’s thoughts were now focusing on what she could remember about her father, Gerard. Gerard was not a person she normally centered her thoughts on, but today she felt the need to remember what she could about him. She found herself overcome with sadness as memories did not flow freely; very little of him had been stored over the years in her memory banks.
Julianne Marguerite was twenty four the last time she saw her father and they did not part on good terms. Gerard was an alcoholic and she often wondered if his part of the four-way affair between himself, his wife Edith and another couple, Irene and David had any bearing on his drinking so heavily. Guilt surely must have warranted his need to bury the shame he brought onto himself and his family.But Julianne Marguerite also sensed that he drank to hide other hidden pains.
It was Gerard who wanted children when he got married and children he did have…eight of them. It must have pained him to not have had a relationship with any of these children because the affair took away time he should have spent with them. The fact that he drank kept Julianne Marguerite and her other siblings distant from him. She resented what he did to the family, yet more so, she hated what he was doing to himself.
Julianne Marguerite stopped for a moment to catch her breath as she suddenly realized that she really never had a conversation with her father. There were never any two-way discussions as Gerard did all the talking. He never knew how Julianne Marguerite felt or what she had for dreams, and she never knew who Gerard really was because of the affair and the bottles of alcohol. Their thoughts remained untold. Who was he? Julianne Marguerite wanted to know.
Certainly the Great Depression experienced during my father’s early life left him hungry; and having had an alcoholic father himself and a mother who never seemed to be home, these left a void in Gerard. There was no one to guide him, no one to bond with. More sadly, there was no one to comfort him when he needed another human’s touch. There was no one to let him know that he was loved. Add to this the fact that he had seen the horrors of war, this left him insecure and aided to his inability to mature emotionally in a way that would allow him to give of himself to others…especially his children.
Julianne Marguerite reached for the box of tissue on top of the desk as she was unable to stop her tears. All her life, she harbored anger against her father and resented the fact that he was not the father she wanted him to be.
After a while, Julianne Marguerite thoughts were intensifying. She suddenly realized that her father had given his children more than what he ever had. His children had a home to life in, they had food and clothing, and Gerard was home every night. To Gerard, this was his way of showing his love and it took great strengths to give what he never had himself.
Julianne Marguerite again looked down at the date on the calendar and wished she could see her father one more time. To see him beyond the man who was an alcoholic and involved in a four-way affair; to see him as one who needed above anything else, what all humans need to thrive on…love. Love could have given him the courage to shed the shell of the life he had lived and find other ways to reach the hearts of his children and be the father they needed and wanted.
Coming to understand Gerard was too late to make a difference as Gerard had passed on years ago. But, it was not too late for Julianne Marguerite to find it in her heart to forgive her father and love him. With that thought, Julianne Marguerite closed her desk knowing she gained more than she had before her day began. She had gained peace of mind…and a father.