Growing up as a child I never got to know my father real well. He was never there to play catch with me or tuck me in at night. I also have spent many birthdays with out having him there.
Oh I saw him plenty of times. I was able to watch him on TV every weekend. I would watch as thousands of people would scream and cheer for him. They viewed my father as a hero, someone they wish they could be.
I on the other hand saw my father in a whole other perspective. He was a man who would cheat on my mother and seldom had time for his family. There were many times I would have to listen to my mother cry herself to sleep.
The hatred I carried for him over the years was unbearable. My friends would always tell me how lucky I was to have a famous wrestler for a father. I guess I could understand why they would feel that way.
If the shoe were on the foot I would probably feel the same way. They never had to live the life my family did, though. So they would never be able to possibly understand how tough things were.
Still I always loved my father. I guess that’s why it was always so painful when it came to my feelings about him. Things would be much easier if I just had completely hated him. At least then I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.
He did have is few good moments from time to time. I remember when I was six my dad took me to the Bronx Zoo. We spent hours looking at all the animals and attractions. He let me ride his shoulders the whole day.
That was probably one of my fondest moments out of the few I had with him. The rest are filled with mostly lonely nights of wanting and wishing. The hardest part was watching my mother break down over the years.
As a child I remember her being so much prettier. She had long flowing red hair, and a smile that would brighten the day of the saddest person. She had natural beauty that couldn’t be brought at the salon.
Before my mother started drinking and popping pills, she was one of the kindest people you would ever meet. She would play ball with my friends, and me and then make cookies for us after the game.
She taught me all the things a boy would need to know growing up. Like how to ride a bike and catch pop fly’s, things that should have been taught by a father and son while bonding.
It seemed like nothing was ever wrong with her. She never let her pain and suffering show when she was with me then. Over the years though, loneliness would eventually take its toll on her.
By the time I was ten she was hitting the bottle hard. Her once radiant beauty had long left her almost soulless body. The few times my dad would come home during the year. Were often spent with him and mom arguing.
My dad was more beat up by that time. He would spend a good part of his visit doped up on painkillers and scotch. He was still sober enough to slap mom around though when she got out of line.
I still loved my old man back then. I guess as Childs ignorance can easily blind someone. After all, he was hero to fans all over the world. He was a world champion who defended the belt against evildoers from all over.
As I got older I though, my ignorance would be replaced by reality. I would realize that he was nothing more than a phony that was only good for one thing, a paycheck. It was tough to learn that the one redeeming quality about him was nothing more than an act.
I no longer cared that he was never around anymore. After a while you start to get immune to that kind of pain. I also understood that my mother would never let him go.
She would love him until the day he dies. I guess in a way love is blind even to the cruelest of acts. It’s the only reason I can explain how I could have loved a man who has done nothing but cause pain in his families life.
One of the last few good memories that I have of my dad was about five years ago. He had just come home from an extended tour in Japan. He busted his ribs up pretty good during a steel cage match and was forced out of action for a couple months.
After about a month of uncomfortable banter, I would have the most heart felt conversation with him that was had between us in almost ten years. I remember that evening as clear as day.
It was on a rainy April day and the old man was sitting on the porch drinking a beer. I was leaving the house to meet up with some friends. As I was getting in my car I heard him call me over.
When I sat down he handed me a cold one, and said he was sorry for being a lousy father. My first thought was to tell him to go fuck himself. But I saw something that I never saw before when I looked in his eyes.
For the first time since knowing my dad I saw sadness. He looked broken down and battered inside and out. So I sat down, and we had what I considered to be, our first ever-real father and son conversation.
At first I couldn’t believe I was even talking to my father. He poured his heart out and wept in a fashion that I had never seen before. It was as if he bottled up all his feelings over the years, and now they were forcing themselves out all at once.
He told me about the pain and suffering he had endured over the years as a wrestler. Whether it was the countless matches that he had to work injured, or the lonely nights on the road he spent most of his life.
I started to actually feel bad for my old man. Despite the countless missed Christmases, or beatings he had given my mother over the years. I found my self-loving my father again.
I can honestly say that the next month of my life was probably the best I have ever had. My father and me spent almost every day together. We would spend hours, just talking and sharing our life stories.
He and my mom even started to talk civil again. She wasn’t drunk everyday anymore, and they actually seemed to love each other again. For the first time that I could ever remember we were acting like a family.
It was about a month later when my father was finally healed and ready to wrestle again. I remember hearing my mother pleading with him not to go. I knew he wouldn’t stay though.
In some ways I even understood his reasoning. In the ring my dad was a great man, he was someone that people admired and respected. At home he wasn’t anything more than a common person.
When he left I felt like a child again, lonely and abandoned. Still we did something that we had never done before. For the first time ever we were truly a father and son. I often think back to those few loving moments we shared.
I never saw my father again after that visit. We talked a few times here and there on the phone. It wasn’t the same though. I could tell by the emptiness in his voice, that he didn’t know what to say to me.
It wasn’t to long after that the calls would stop coming completely. I guess he felt that there was no need to pretend anymore. In all honesty I wasn’t to shocked by this. I figured it was a matter of time before he forgot about us again.
The next time I remember hearing about my dad was my final time. We got a call at three in the morning from a hospital in Denver. They told me that my father had bled to death after being stabbed a few times.
All I can remember after that is calling my mom over and putting the phone on the table. She must have truly loved him, because she cried for hours after that call. I still wonder to myself why.
Its not like he was ever really there for her. Like I mentioned before though, love is blind, even for the worst of people. Why I was asked to make this speech today is beyond me.
I told them when they asked me to do it that I probably wasn’t the best person for it. I also told them that if I did I would be completely honest with everyone. So hear I am doing exactly what I said I would do.
It is a little strange though, after all the years of not seeing him. Even with all the shit he has put my family through. There is still a part of me that loved this man that I stand over today.
I guess it must be the small part of me that is still a child. It’s the part of me that has always been willing to forgive him. It’s also the part of me that will always keep me loving him.
Goodbye father, may you rest in peace.
(This is a story I pulled up from my vault.I hope you all enjoy it.)