I Forgive You, Dad

(This poem comes from Lance Landall, a friend in the South Pacific. You can find more of his poems at http://www.poetrywithamission.co.nz.)

I Forgive You, Dad

You didn’t understand me, nor know how to deal with me; I’m different to you, Dad, though I can see you in me. When facing a mirror, I sometimes think I’m seeing you, And that rather disturbs me, but there’s little I can do.

Yes, you really frightened me — overdid things, didn’t you? You lost it sometimes, hence why some discipline went askew. I cried out “I’m sorry,” begged you to halt both fist and boot, And hated you for it, wished you were dead, thought you a brute.

Mum hated it too, and condemned it, but what could she do? After all, despite your wrong behaviour, she did love you. And all said and done, you were a good man, I have to say, Whom stress got the better of; and background too, one must weigh.

We’re all victims of our background to some degree — therefore, The consequences of such, it would be wrong to ignore. This, I’ve come to see, having erred myself, unsurprisingly, For I’m the product of your influence; and genes, you see.

Yes, I’ve the scars to prove it, Dad, and they’ve dogged me daily, But I have picked up on those good things you instilled in me. Yes, I’m quite a mixture, as both good and bad came my way, Which I’m still dealing with, and much have dealt with, I must say.

Mother loved me, Dad, though her positive quips irked me; I seemed to be down a lot, was looking for empathy. At times she was silent, sided with you — and wrongly, I thought, But I guess in the middle mothers sometimes do get caught.

Surely you loved me too, Dad, though you seemed quite hard to me, So independent, capable — lacking sensitivity. You weren’t into feelings, Dad, you didn’t have time for such, Or so it seemed, for affection wise, I didn’t see much.

A son needs cuddles too, Dad, a father he can talk to, A dad who’ll spend time with him, time I wished I’d had with you. And it is okay to cry, Dad, I wasn’t such a baby, Just a son who needed you — but sadly, you were too busy.

Many of your words stung, Dad, not just your actions, you know, Thus, there were nights on the bridge when I watched the river flow. Something held me back — I’m not sure what it was — fear, maybe; Oh, Dad, it all messed me up, destroyed my security.

I’ve raised my own children, Dad, and it hasn’t been easy, Given those inner demons, my struggle emotionally. But I’ve tried to do my best, and that’s all that I can do, Given your flawed example, yes, that legacy from you.

However, I understand things now, for I’ve felt stress too, And have come to see how our background can affect what we do. I don’t excuse what you did, for no one should, obviously, It’s just that I’ve learnt a lot, now see things differently.

And I forgive you, Dad, and I think I love you now — want to, I’m sad you’re not here though, and hey, I’ve changed a lot too. Maybe you’d be proud of me — it would mean so much to me, For that and a father’s love, every son desires, needs, you see.

It’s a shame you didn’t say sorry, Dad

By Lance Landall.