311/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. This one’s a tough one. I can only put it off for so long but tonight is the right time. My dad passed away 3 years ago on the 26th of May a few days before his birthday which is today. He would have been 80 today. I have mixed emotions when it comes to my dad but through therapy, I have learned that those emotions, although valid, are of my own perspective and not because he did anything wrong consciously. My dad was a paranoid delusional schizophrenic – he thought the government and all its agents were after him and by extension the family and thus he did not abide by certain rules and we were not allowed to live in the way most people live. However, back in the 70s and early 80s, no one really knew all that much about mental illness and the myriad of diagnoses. His own brothers and sisters denied he had a condition and lay blame on us (myself, my sister and mother) for fabricating tales about him. He could get jobs but because of his delusions, those would soon end. Eventually, because of things I’d rather not delve into, he ended up being institutionalized at Riverview Institute. I was around 6 years old. He was in and out of Riverview – sometimes on a month release, other times because he would “escape”. This was our life for the next decade or so. During this time, a feeling of resentment grew in me. I would see dads and sons everywhere: playing ball, helping ride bikes, walking to school, cutting the lawn etc. Upon a few of his unsanctioned “leaves”, the proverbial white van showing up at our house with my dad being taken back in a strait jacket is etched deeply into my memory. I was embarrassed and neighbourhood kids made fun of us calling us the “retard’s kids” – oh damn, this is getting pretty tough tears welling up – but through it all, he was my dad and I had to remember that. When he was finally diagnosed properly and on meds that managed his condition, he came back into our lives on a full time basis. I finally had a normal dad for the most part – yes, he still had delusions and would talk to himself but less so. He got a good paying job. Worked hard and a year later, my parents had their third child – my younger sister. I will admit that I was ambivalent towards her as this sister ended up with two more or less functioning parents and much more of a normal life than I had. I had a very superficial relationship with my dad in that I guess I blamed him for not being around and thus, in turn making me feeling I was less than adequate. I blamed him for not giving me the male role model I needed. I was jealous of the new family dynamics when he was back. I was upset that I didn’t have a normal childhood and laid all blame on him. I know now that he did not do any of this! He did not leave us willingly and consciously. He did not abandon us because he didn’t love us. He didn’t talk to or not acknowledge our existence because he didn’t care. He didn’t hold down jobs because he was lazy. He had a mental illness. He was not in control. Damn, more tears!!! He worked hard. He saved up money. They got a brand new home. New cars. New “toys”. A new life. Being the dad/granddad to my son that I never had. Yes, I felt like I was on the sidelines looking in but I was also an adult and had to get over it. I am 100% sure that my dad made me into a stronger person. I needed to go through all of that to be the man I am today – phew, more tears!! Towards the latter years of his life, I was able to let go of my resentment. No, we did not have a movie-like wonderful ending – more like an ongoing telenovela/Bollywood drama where we were good for this week’s episode but that hole in my heart for lack of a father became much smaller in diameter. Yes, I have never properly thanked him, told anyone I loved him, acknowledged him or even yet grieved his passing but this gratitude post is a start, albeit a public one, that my dad, given all he had to go through, ended up teaching me about life, struggles, being responsible for self and not letting your past dictate your future. I love you dad for giving me life and caring for me in your own way. Thank you for moving to Canada, marrying mom and creating something here and leaving behind a great inheritance both financial and emotional for the three of us children moving forward. I still have a lot of work to do on myself in regards to father/son bonds but wherever you are, I am no longer angry or resentful – I can honestly say that I do love you and what you did for us.