I was stingy for his love after he died; he was, after all, my father. But memories of his attention seemed always to be for someone else.
Reacting with sibling competition, I envied that Daddy had once apologized to my older sister. When she was a child, he had mistreated her. I guessed the reason was because she had taken all of Mom’s attention. But I had been his little buddy. Perhaps he felt there was no reason to apologize for his behavior toward me. After his death, the thought of his need for my sister’s forgiveness angered me as if lightening had struck white heat through my heart.
Jealousy of Daddy’s love for Mom overpowered me, too. I felt he loved Mom as if she were the only person in his world. “Don’t you think your moma has such a good way about her?” he would ask me, grinning, always telling me how pretty she was. I remembered the times he held my hands out to the light, turning them this way and that, and then with a smile declaring them “just like your moma’s.”
Even the affection he felt toward his dog tore at me. The sound of Dad’s gentle talk to that dog echoed in my ears after his death. Every day for years, he had taken it for a walk in the woods on the hunt. “We scout ‘em squirrels out together,” he bragged. On my visits home, those squirrel hunts were his funny stories.
My family relationships suffered from the resentment that wiggled in and out of me like worms. But, it seemed that as grief ever-so-slowly abated, my feelings evolved into something more respectful. I became grateful that Daddy had given my sister a chance to forgive him. I became thankful that his life was filled with a love that many never find. And I was glad that he taught me how to be an honest and forthright individual. That was his attention to me; he was, after all, my father.
Grief turns on the basic emotions like switching on all the lights in the house. Jealousy is one. Listen to it. It is saying you have every right to hurt. Talk to someone who can help you find a healthy release.