All My Life My Father Blamed Me for My Mother's Passing, Then He Gets Taught a Lesson – Story of the Day
I grew up believing that my father blamed me for my mother's death but the truth was heartbreaking.
I never knew my mother, and my father never spoke about her. All I knew was that she had been very beautiful, because of the picture that hung on my father's study wall, and that she had died very young.
My father was a sad man, a quiet and distant man. I wanted him to notice me, and to love me, but he never did. He rarely spoke to me beyond the perfunctory hello and goodbye, good morning and goodnight. I would have given anything for him to sweep me into his arms and tell me he loved me.
This strange and strained relationship with my father continued until I was 18, and by then I was a sad and lonely young woman who believed my father hated me. If my father didn't love me, who would?
But the answer to all my questions was about to be delivered in the most painful and cruel way. My father was hosting a party for his business associates, and among them was a woman whom I knew slightly.
If you don't leave the past behind you, you deny yourself a future.
I had the feeling that she and my father had a past together -- or at least that she wished they did. She greeted me and we started chatting -- inconsequential talk about nothing special -- and my father walked by.
I gave him my best smile, but he immediately glanced away. The woman saw it all. "Do you know why?" she asked.
"Why what?" I asked, confused.
"Why he hates you," she said.
"My father doesn't hate me!" I exclaimed. "He's just not a very demonstrative man."
"So you don't know..." she smiled. It was the ugliest smile I'd ever seen. I was about to walk away when she said, "He believes you killed your mother, Karen."
I stopped in my tracks. "What?" I gasped.
"Your mother died giving birth to you, surely you know that?" she said.
"No..." I answered. "No, I didn't know." I turned my back on her and went looking for my grandmother, my father's mother, the woman who'd raised me and never told me about my mother's death.
"How did my mother die?" I asked her angrily. "Was it in childbirth?"
My grandmother shook her head. "Please Karen, your father asked me never to speak of this with you."
"I have the right to know about my own mother!" I cried. "I have the right to know why my father hates me!"
Then a quiet angry voice behind me said, "I don't hate you, Karen, but your mother's death is none of your business:"
I turned to face my father. "My mother's death is none of my business? You're wrong! I killed her, didn't I? That's what you think each time you look at me!"
The expression in his eyes sent me running out of the door. I got into my car and drove aimlessly, tears running down my face. In my distress, I didn't see the oncoming car changing lanes until it was too late.
I woke up in the hospital linked to a beeping machine, with a dull promise of pain twinging through my whole body. Sitting by my side and holding my hand was my father.
"Karen," he said softly, "Thank God you're alright!"
"Daddy..." I whispered, "you're here!"
Tears came into his eyes. "Of course I'm here. I don't hate you, Karen. I love you. And I don't blame you for your mother's death, I blame myself. When your mom and I married we were very poor.
"All we had were dreams and our love for each other. Then she fell pregnant and I took on a second job. I knew we'd need the money when you came along. I was working 16-hour days and she spent a lot of time alone.
"So one day when I came home she wasn't there. A neighbor had taken her to the hospital. When I got there it was all over. Your mother had died, and I hadn't been there for her.
"I didn't blame you, Karen, I blamed myself. I was determined I wasn't going to fail you the way I'd failed her, so I threw myself into my work, and I became a rich man.
"Daddy, how could you blame yourself?" I asked. "There was nothing you could have done!"
"I could have been there, holding her hand the way I'm holding yours now," he said.
"But daddy..." I hesitated, "you were always so angry with me, so cold. You ran away from me."
"Karen, you look just like your mother, and each time I looked at you, my heart was torn apart by grief and guilt. It took nearly losing you to make me realize what I'd done. I love you."
For the first time in my life, my father put his arms around me and showed me that he loved me. It was a new beginning for both of us, and I like to believe my mother was smiling down from heaven.
What can we learn from this story?
- If you don't leave the past behind you, you deny yourself a future. Karen's father was so lost in his pain that he nearly lost the opportunity to have a wonderful relationship with his daughter.
- The truth can heal old wounds and open the way to a new beginning. It was only after Karen and her father spoke about their estrangement that they could move past their misunderstandings.
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