Losing a Father


This has taken me a long time to get to this point, but it’s something I need to get out.   First let me say, no my biological Dad is not dead in the sense he’s no longer living. He’s still alive, just not a part of my life.

Maybe I should have titled this “sins of the fathers”.  For my Grandpa wasn’t much of a Dad himself.  What I can tell you about my Grandpa is he and my Grandmother married in their teens because he got my Grandma pregnant.  They were homesteader’s kids whose parents were trying to survive in Montana.  They had 6 kids, my Dad being the oldest boy, but 2nd in the family.  My Grandpa worked on the railroad while Grandma waitresses at a little café.  The stories I heard growing up included my Grandparents caring more about their own friends and the bar than actually being responsible parents.  Can you imagine what would happen with 6 kids unsupervised?  Chaos, fights and trouble ensued for sure.  I know when my Dad was as young at 1 his parents chained him and his older sister either to their bed or the front porch so they could go out drinking.  When they returned if they had, had an accident in their diapers they got beat for it.  When he was older, while his parents were gone he and his siblings got into some alcohol, got in a fight and he ended up getting hot ashes from the stove poured down his back leaving permanent scars.

My Dad only made it through the 8th grade and then quit school.  He lied about his age and joined the Navy.  Later he was dishonorably discharged due to fights and anger issues.  Upon returning home he got a job working on the railroad.  He became an engineer, while working he spent his time read encyclopedias and the dictionary.  My dad was a self-taught man.  He could fix vehicles and build pretty much anything he wanted.

My Dad was 29 when he got married and 31 when I came along.  When my mom was pregnant with me my Dad told my mom he would not be around when I was born, he did not wish to have any part of it.  He was in fact hundreds of miles away when she gave birth to me.

When I was little my Dad switched careers and became a cross-country truck driver until I was in high school.  During high school he returned to the railroad and continued until he retired from it.  When my sister and I were young, during the summers we took turns traveling with our Dad on his truck around the country.  By the time I was in the 4th grade I had traveled all over most of the United States. My Dad chose a job driving truck because he did not like having a boss watching over him, he did not want a boss who could check up on him.

My Dad really never wanted to be held accountable to anyone for any reason, he has always wanted to do whatever he wanted and never be questioned for it.  His ways were right and to hell with you if you questioned him on any it.  I’ve never once ever heard my Dad say he was wrong or apologize for anything he’s done.  Growing up the motto my Dad’s families held dear was “children should be seen and not heard”.  You were never to question anything he ever said.

My Dad was not one to express himself by any means, other than when he was mad or upset and then a stream of obscenities came spewing out of his mouth.  Any time he was working on a vehicle or project and things didn’t go according to plan, I would see him start cussing and yelling and if he was really mad he would pick up things and throw them.  Thankfully it never got thrown at me.  This was witnessed again a few years ago when my sister and I were home with our kids and my Dad was working in his shop on a project and it wasn’t going well.  Suddenly words and things start flying as he showed all of us how angry he really was.

The only affection my Dad ever showed was towards my mom, she got a kiss and hug and once in a while they would hold hands, when it came to my sister and I, we got nothing.  The only time my Dad wanted me around was if he was home and he needed help working on his truck or vehicles.  I hated this and wanted nothing to do with it, but he would force me to come out and help him.  If I would try to take off I would get yelled at and told to come back.

When I was in the 5th grade my Dad decided he wanted to join AMWAY and so he and my mom left and went to a conference in Kansas City, Missouri and came back and got involved.  Part of what they were told was “it would look better for them as a family if they went to church”.  So we started going to church as a family.  My Dad went a few times and then he was done.  He was there the day my sister and I got baptized, but he never went again until years later after I had started my family.

When I was little I wanted a Dad who was involved in my life.  I wanted a Dad who took an interest in me, who would play with me.  When I went to school and started getting teased and made fun of, my Dad was not around, he was off traveling the country.  There weren’t any other male figures in my life.  My Mom was raising my sister and I.  When kids started hitting or punching me, I wanted my Dad to come and make it all better, but he was gone.  When I started getting molested I secretly hoped somehow my Dad would figure it out and come and rescue me, but he had no clue. Most of my birthdays he was never home, special events or activities I was involved in he was absent.

When I was a freshman in high school amidst the pain of rejection, sexual abuse and being bullied at school, during a homecoming football game, some guys during half-time took me and dumped me into a dumpster as parents and other students passed by.  This was a breaking point for me.  I went home that night and determined I was going to end my life.  I contemplated blowing my brains out in front of the school or going out in some horrific way to show how angry and upset I was.  A few days later, I was home alone and I tried to kill myself by taking a bottle of pills.  My Dad actually happened to be home at this time and so when my parents found out what happened came to the hospital.  When my Dad showed up he said, “I don’t want you to die, I do love you,” (that was the last time my Dad ever told me he loved me and that’s been over 25 years now).

Over the years I have sent letters to my Dad asking him hundreds of questions, wanting to know what he thinks about me, is he proud of me, what had he hoped for in a son?  Was I a disappointment to him, had he wished for something else?   Why would he have helped to create me and then wanted nothing to do with me.  I’ve gotten no responses.

Despite wanting my Dad to engage with me and actively be involved in my life I never got it.  It hurt and still hurts to this day.  There are days the pain of it all just wrecks me.  I have to stop and deal with my anger, hurt and pain.  Sometimes it’s more than I can take.  It’s very much wounded me and shaped who I am as a man, husband and father.  As a little boy I remember thinking I have to do this on my own, there is no one for me to count on.  I have to take care of myself, because no one loves me enough to do it.  I can also remember vividly telling myself over and over how I would never be anything like my parents, especially my Dad.

Going home over the years has never been an easy thing for me.  I always feel like I am more of an intrusion in my parent’s life than welcomed.  The stress level is high and there have been many fights and arguments over the years.  My Dad still has not changed, and at this point never will.  Even my own children have begun to notice all of it in the last couple of years, wondering what’s going on?  They can tell how incredibly stressed I am around my parents.  Generally for the most part I end up spending as much time with my friends as I can and keeping my time with my parents to a minimum.

In the last couple of years I finally came to the realization, this is insanity.  I can’t keep doing this; it’s not healthy for me or my own children.  What I needed I never got and can never get it.  I needed a Dad who loved me, protected me and wanted me.  I was hurting, angry, lonely, defenseless, I shut down when I was little and looking back there are clear signs that something was terribly wrong and those signs went unnoticed. I’ve had to make the choice to say enough is enough and not allow my parents to be a part of my life any longer.  I have lost hope and stopped praying it will ever change.

I lost my Dad from a very early age.  It’s been one of the hardest things to work through in my life.  In not having a father I know what being a man, husband and father isn’t, but in my attempt to be a man, husband and father, I have had to go about it on my own.  I will never allow this to pass on to my kids.  I made a vow when I was little that I would be nothing like my Dad and to this day I am nothing like him.

If you are a Dad, please, invest in your children, they need you an active part of their life.  They need a Dad who can show affection, express himself and tell them every day how much they are loved and valued.  Find out about your kids, if something seems off, most likely it is, ask questions and keep asking.  Don’t allow what happened to me to be what happens to you and your relationship.  Your kids are counting on you.

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About Chris Goforth

West Coast Hipster Ninja husband and Papa- allowing Jesus to impact every aspect of my life while raising 6 kids, taking photos, being outdoors & playing Settles of Catan. View all posts by Chris Goforth

12 responses to “Losing a Father

  • Moe

    Tears run through my eyes as I read this as my “father” was also an absentee sperm donor. I am going to also share my story as a letter to him, but I’m still dealing with the emotions that even I didn’t know were still in my heart.

    I know it took guts and soul searching to put this on here. I applaud you for that. I haven’t had the “courage” to do so yet, but I will.

    Thanks for sharing Chris. You are nothing, nothing like your dad. You invest in your children’s life and they will in theirs. We can change the cycle… and we will.

    • Goforth's Journal

      I am with you on that 100%. We are changing the course of time by our interactions and investments in our children. I look forward to hearing your story. Emotions run deep and most likely always will. Know that I am always here for you as a brother and friend to say whatever you want and cry together if you need it and also rejoice in the joys of our own children and their lives.

  • Ben

    Wow. This is pretty bold man, just remember you have an ultimate Father in heaven who loves you no matter what. Isn’t that awesome? I pray for you, to heal.
    Thank you for sharing, you.

  • Alex

    I am very thankful that you have shared this part of your life with us. My mom got pregnant with me when she was 16 and I have never known my biological father. I always wonder about other realative I have with because of this. I know I have a sister that I have never met, but want to. Thankfully by God’s will an amazing man adopted me and I am so thankful to God to this very day that he did. He was the very thing that my mom and I needed most. Even though the marrige didn’t work out, hd is very active in my life. Thanks again for sharing.

    • Goforth's Journal

      I am so very thankful to hear that another man stepped in and did the job. That truly is something God used for his purpose. Hopefully that will create a ripple that transcends to your children and grandchildren.

  • Brock S. Henning

    Chris, it’s been a blessing getting to know you recently, and it took some pretty big you-know-whats to share this, the kind of you-know-whats it takes to be a real, loving father (a R.A.M.) who obviously cares so much about his kids, the way I know you do.

    Amidst all of the crap you went through as a child and teen, you know what hit me the hardest? When your dad came to the hospital. I thought you might say something like “He cussed me out” or “He called me an idiot” for trying to commit suicide. I was shocked that he said “I do love you.”

    Somewhere buried, and dare I say forgotten, that man loved his son. As you’ve shared with me before, you just keeping hugging and playing and loving on your kids. You are the man God has called to break the chains of generations of anger and sin. You are the lover and the fighter God has raised up, because our Heavenly Father (and all of us friends out here) believe in you.

    I hate to sound corny, but God has given you the role of Neo in your family’s story, my friend. We shall be free.

    • Goforth's Journal

      Thank you Brock, I think my Dad did love me at one point, but got lost or caught up in his own stuff and never came out of it. Thank you for your words and friendship and encouragement. It helps push me onward.

  • robinmatteri

    Here’s what I learned from Oprah last week:

    “The best definition of forgiveness I ever heard is giving up the hope that the past could be any different. I love that definition, because it doesn’t mean that you then have to accept the person back into your life. Forgiveness does not mean I now want to have you over for dinner. It doesn’t mean I want to associate with you. It just means I will no longer be tied to the past.” -Oprah Show

    Peace-

  • Justin

    Chris….God is glorified through your speaking and writing of your pain – your earthly father’s absence. Keep writing, talking, processing. You are loved, brother.

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