by Jessica Holmes, SLC Research Associate
My father spent the next twelve years residing in and out of various independent living facilities. My parents got divorced when I was nine and I refused to see my father after that. I didn’t believe my mother when she insisted that he loved me and that his disability had nothing to do with me. She did not insist that I speak with him, a decision that I, to this day, appreciate. She allowed me to grow as a person and come to these realizations on my own time.
The day I turned thirteen, like clockwork, I decided I wanted to pursue a relationship with my father in whatever capacity possible. My mom and dad settled through the courts on appropriate dates and times for visitation and, after years of despising and not really knowing him, I began to foster a relationship with my father. To this day, I don’t remember what turned my attitude around. Maybe my age had caught up with me and I realized that none of this was his fault; if anything, I felt sorry for the man who knew he could not take care of himself, let alone take care of his family. Our Sunday afternoon visits became something I looked forward to, as my dad tried his best to relate with me and became as much of a father as he could. I found that we were more alike than I thought – we both loved to read and spent countless hours at the library together. We shared the same religious and political beliefs and started going to church together. He got me started on listening to talk radio and thinking about issues outside my giggly adolescent mind. We shared the same sarcastic sense of humor and sooner or later, I came to terms with the fact that our Sunday visits were all that my father could handle; yet I still had a dad who loved me. I felt embarrassed by the fact that when I was younger, I used to tell my friends that I didn’t have a dad. But I was young and didn’t understand the situation, so I forgave myself and tried to let it go.
Next, click here for Jessica's View Now as an Adult