Forgiving My Dad

Forgiving My Dad

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Be The Best You Can Be

Forgiving My Dad

In this world it is not what we take up, but what we give up, that makes us rich.

~Henry Ward Beecher

I was seven years old and my little brother was only four on the day my parents told us they were going to get a divorce. I couldn’t believe it. I remember every detail of that day. They had taken us to a park by a little stream for a picnic. It was a nice, sunny day, and the spot was really beautiful. We were sitting under a big oak tree when they told us. My parents must have thought that if they took us somewhere nice, maybe the bad news wouldn’t be so hard for us to accept. Yeah, right.

When they told us they wouldn’t be living together anymore, I cried. So did my brother, but I don’t think he really knew why. I remember thinking, How could they do this to us? What is going to happen to us? Was it our fault? They said it wasn’t our fault, and they both still loved us very much. If they did, why were they doing this? Dad told us we would live with him. I found it very hard to understand.

We moved away from the town that we used to live in as a family — just me, my brother, and our dad. I know it was just as hard for our dad to accept as it was for us. Sometimes, I would walk into the bedroom of our small place and find Dad crying. I hated to see him like that. He tried to hide it from us as much as he could, but you could tell he’d been crying because his eyes were red. I pretended not to notice.

My brother missed Mom a lot, and he cried a lot, too. I did my best to be there for him, and I tried to help Dad by cooking things for dinner — simple things like beans on toast. I don’t know if it helped much, but I didn’t know what else I could do. I would also get my brother ready for school and clean up our bedroom in the morning, so Dad wouldn’t have to.

After a few months, Dad told us we would have to go and live with our grandparents for a while. He said he had to go back to college to get his degree so he could get a better-paying job in order to take care of us. At the time, I was so upset and angry. How could he leave us after we had already lost our mom? He had told us we would live with him!

We had to take a plane to where our grandparents lived because it was so far away. Our grandparents were pleased to see us, as always, but this time they were especially welcoming. This was going to be our home for a while. It came time for Dad to leave, but I didn’t want him to go. He told us he wouldn’t be able to visit as often as he would like because he would be very busy at the university. As I watched him walk away, I couldn’t believe he was leaving us. It was bad enough that Mom was gone, but now Dad, too?

He visited us every couple of months for a few days at a time. It was always hard when he had to leave because we weren’t sure when we were going to see him again. Sometimes we would take a flight, just my brother and me, to spend a few days with him. The flight attendants were always really nice to us. But it seemed that by the time we got to Dad’s, we had to turn around and go back to our grandparents’ house. The visits were never long enough.

Finally, after three years of living with my grandparents, Dad came to visit for the last time. He had finished school, and found a good job and a nice place for us to live. I had missed him for so long that I cried when he told us we’d be living together again and that he was finally taking us home!

When we are kids, we don’t really understand why our parents do some of the things they do. I didn’t really understand why my dad had to leave us for so long or why we couldn’t just stay with him. But he made the difficult choice of having his parents look after us so he could get a better education and find a better job. It was very hard for him, too, but he did the right thing.

Now I understand that what he did, he did for us.

~Sarah McIver

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