letters across the universe

Regrets, Part One


Grandpa, I wonder if you could answer this question.  Is it possible, really possible, for a person to reach the end of his life and have no regrets?  I suspect the answer is no – at least unless you’re a sociopath.  Assuming one is not a sociopath, I think regrets are a part of our lives here.  They range in intensity, in meaning, in purpose, but we all have them.  I think the trick is to recognize them, to try to mend your ways if possible, and to ask forgiveness where it’s needed.  My regrets?  I have a lot already for my 39 1/2 years, but I’ll just share the few that have to do with you. There are lots of small ones that we can talk about later, but I need to get the biggest one off my chest.

You should have walked me down the aisle.  My father had no business doing that. Everyone knows it and I’m sure there were people who are or were angry with me for it.  But a young girl who always hoped for something more in life – attentive parents, doting siblings, a step-mom who didn’t act her age – it was what I dreamed of.  My relationship with mom and D has always been so complicated, so fraught with hurt feelings, with the sense of abandonment, with the complication that a kid in the 1980s would naturally have with a gay parent.  To suddenly have a parent who, I thought, saw me for who I was, was intoxicating.  Let’s be honest: I was a great kid.  Sure I had a few indiscretions, but my father swooped into the life of a 16-year-old honor student, show choir member, musical lead actress, multi-instrument playing overachiever.  I was the kind of kid (and this has carried forward to adulthood) who could not handle having anyone be angry, upset or disappointed in me.  I was the total package.  I had everything that my dad didn’t have in his step children or his other biological children.  I was already raised.  There was no work for him to do.  And you and Grandma did a hell of a job.

By the time Andrew and I got married, my dad had been a part of my life for 6 years.  There would only be 4 good years left.  If I had known, what would I have done?  Well, I wouldn’t have believed for a minute that he would walk out of my life again, so I’m sure I wouldn’t have done anything differently.  None of us saw that coming.

The amazing thing about you, Grandpa, is that I know you would never have left me.  You had an extremely challenging relationship with your seven children, we will talk about that later, but even when they walked out on you, you waited, and you were there when they came back.  They may have come back for Grandma, or for money, or for help of some sort, but it didn’t matter.  You were there to give the help.  Please understand that I am not putting you on any kind of pedestal or claiming you to be a saint.  We both know you were not.  But in your later years you tried.  I know you tried.

As the whole family stood at your bedside the night you left us, Grandma said what I have always felt but never said out loud – you were my daddy.  You were the only one who deserved to be with me on my wedding day.  And for that, I am really, really sorry.