Little Victories

ID-10030753I stopped at Walgreen’s on my way home last night to pick up a Father’s Day card for my dad. One entire aisle was stocked with cards specific to Graduation and Father’s Day. Cards for Dad were funny, religious, serious, from daughter, from son, from all of us, from wife, from grandchild, even from the dog and cat.

It’s always been a struggle picking out a card for my father and this year was no different. Dad’s eighty now, living in an assisted living facility; he’s thoughtful to the staff, has friends who include him in weekly golf outings and is happily living his life. I’m happy for him. But, for years, our relationship was strained. Not the kind of strain from him imposing an early curfew or not letting me go to the movies with my friends. The kind of strain caused by divorce, sadness, fear, anger and resentment; strain that drives a wedge between two people until the gap is too wide and the space too far to cross to get back to each other. I was a sensitive kid, dad wasn’t the best communicator, not a good combination. There were years of estrangement followed by reunions followed by more estrangement. When I got married dad and I were in an estrangement period, mom walked me down the aisle. By the time I got divorced dad was back in my life and has been since.

Over the years I’ve cried with my friends, worked with professionals, lowered my expectations to overcome issues stemming from my childhood, which more or less, caused problems in many of my relationships. Here I am, for the most part, on the other side of all that hard work; I love my dad, know he did the best he could, given his own upbringing, am thrilled he’s being cared for and likes where he lives.

But, buying a card can be a challenge. I don’t want anything too sappy, don’t want something too impersonal. And now, with dad’s eyesight less than perfect, I don’t want to pick out a card that’s too wordy, an effort to read. So standing in the aisle at Walgreen’s I pulled one card after another from their plastic slots until I found a simple one wishing Dad a Happy Father’s Day and year ahead.

When the teenage boy rang up my purchase, I rifled through my wallet and presented him with the exact change.

“Look at that,” I said.

“Little victories,” he replied.

I dropped dad’s card in the mail  today. Little victories, indeed.

20 replies

  1. So nice. I was lucky to have a good relationship with my Dad, but can appreciate when things are more challenging. Sounds like you’re a good, loving daughter and that’s the best Father’s Day gift you can give.

  2. Love this post. I think so many of us can relate, I know I can. I too, am sensitive and it can be both a blessing and a curse! I think all we can do is be honest with ourselves about how we feel, and then give ourselves grace.

    • Thanks, Tracy. I’m much more accepting of who I am and what feels right for me. Took a long time, still figuring it all out, but there’s so much more peace in my life.

  3. grrrr We …oh, now it’s working…. We take our victories where and when we can. I’m glad you found the perfect card for a complicated situation. Next year, I bet you could make a card. Few words, but hand made…might be just the thing! Maybe a pressed flower glued on front or something? 😉

  4. For me, it’s been the Mother’s Day card. Even though I had trepidations about my dad, it was easy to buy him cards as long as they were funny. But I had a pretty rough relationship with my mom and I would go to lengths to avoid picking up a card that suggested we have a loving relationship. That’s all water under the bridge now, but not too long ago it was a struggle. I’m glad you had success with the Father’s Day, and I’m glad your dad is being cared for. Sounds like he’s content. I don’t know if we ever fully get over the trauma and angst of growing up with difficult parents. We just have to live our lives the best we can, and treat people as well as we want to be treated. Sounds to me like you’re doing a good job 🙂

  5. I can relate to your Mother’s Day card buying, that’s exactly my struggle with dad in finding the right card. It’s been a long road but we’re both in good places now. Thanks!

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