I started crying. It got worse. I finally pulled the car over on an interstate exit. Better than driving off the road blinded by tears.
It was over 20 years ago, but the memory is vivid. I was on my way to Indianapolis for a meeting. I was listening to a tape. It was humorist Dave Barry. I was enjoying laughs that delighted my soul.
And then, it happened. Dave Barry started talking about his Dad. I don’t remember what he said, but I remember what happened to me. I suddenly realized how much I didn’t know about my Daddy. I was aware of huge gaps in my awareness of my Daddy’s story. And I began to cry.
I had missed so much of my Daddy’s life. Oh, we had lived together for my first 18 years and I knew him. But I realized that I didn’t really know him. There was so much that I had not seen. I wept over how much was hidden—some by him and some by my blindness.
He has swallowed much of his pain to protect his children from the burdens of adulthood too soon. He hid behind his manhood—his role of providing stability and security for his family. He hid his unfulfilled dreams so we could fulfill our dreams. He buried his desires to satisfy the needs of those he loved.
And I didn’t know my Daddy because I was blind. I was blinded by my need for him to live beyond the mundane vulnerabilities of other humans; by my anger over his not being all I wanted him to be; by my sophomoric confidence that I new everything.
Fortunately for me, my Daddy was still alive at that point. And I made time to be alone with him, just to hear who he really was, unfiltered by others perceptions. And I am so glad I did. Some gaps were filled. Many were not. When he died, I wept for the loss of the Daddy I did know, but also, for the Daddy I did not know and would never know.