The end of August 2015 marks the 11 year anniversary of my father’s death. It is always an unusual time for me. I’m never quite sure how I’m “supposed” to feel. You see, I loved my father, but I long believed that to be a consequence of my nature rather than anything he’d done. In fact, until recently, I thought he’d taught me nothing about love.
Let me explain further.
My father suffered from serious mental illnesses (bipolar disorder and mild schizophrenia). Although he was prescribed medication, he rarely took it. To the outside world, he appeared to be fun-loving and carefree. To myself, and my triplet sisters, he was moody, demanding and volatile. I was a sensitive and shy child. As you can imagine, this was not a combination that resulted in closeness.
I know my father was aware of the lack of connection between us.
I know this, because, four months before he passed away, he came to me and apologized for being a bad father. He said if he could do it all again, he would have done things differently. When he asked if I forgave him, I said, “Yes”, and meant it. My father passed away, and life continued.
Events of recent months have made me reassess many issues from my past, including those related to my father. From what I understand, both of his parents were violent alcoholics, who smoked more than two chimneys could have. The parting gift they left him was lung cancer caused by years of passive smoking. He had his own unresolved emotional baggage due to his upbringing. I understand why he wasn’t able to love the way I needed him to. I’ve also come to understand that my father did teach me some valuable things about love.
He taught me:
*That understanding another, by seeing their wounds instead of their behavior, is an act of love.
*To never get to the end of your life and wish you’d loved differently.
*To tell people you love them before it’s too late.
*To show people you love them.
*That you cannot love others if you don’t love yourself first . . . and you cannot love yourself when emotional scars brick up your heart.
I am grateful for these lessons, even though it took me a while to notice them.
R.I.P. Vernon Douglas Crawford xxoo
I was 24, psychologically decimated from leaving my long term relationship, and living with my parents. For the first time in my life, I’d given up on the idea of true love. I retreated to a world that had always given me solace: the world of books.
Strolling through the aisles of a local book shop, none of the books appealed to me - another first. I was about to give up and leave, when I caught sight of one called, A Walk To Remember. I picked it up, flipped it over to the blurb, and realized it was a romance novel. I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for love.
Or, so I thought.
As I was putting the book back on the shelf, I noted something else. The name of the author. Nicholas Sparks. A man. I stopped in my tracks, astounded. Since when did MEN write romance?
That intrigued me enough to buy it.
Later that night, I snuggled up in bed, hot chocolate in one hand, Nicholas Sparks in the other. By the early morning hours, I’d finished the book. It gave me hope, inspired me. I wanted more. I have read every one of his books since then (except The Notebook, but that's a topic for another blog).
Over the years, every time my heart splintered, and I wanted to give up, my faith in true love was restored by Nicholas Sparks, hot chocolate . . . and me.
About A.K. Leigh
A.K. Leigh is an international-selling romance author, identical triplet, writing instructor, incurable romantic, love guru, self-love advocate, amateur mystic, mother, sometimes blogger and vlogger, and trauma survivor.