Each of us has this visceral longing, a primal urge to be accepted by our father and to make him proud. This urge is something like hunger or the need for sleep – it stays with us our entire lives. When Dad is not around, this urge becomes a haunting. The ghost usually takes the form of a question. ~John Sowers, Fatherless Generation
I’ve been haunted by memories. I would venture to say that most of us have. We can all remember that time when we were told that one of our our loved ones had passed away unexpectedly. Haunted.
Some of us can remember times when we were scraping the bottom of the barrel, just trying to find clothes to put on our backs, shoes to put on our feet, and a warm meal to eat. Haunted.
Some of us can remember times when our family fought, bitterly, and seethed at each other for weeks to come. Haunted.
Some of us can remember the fights our parents used to have, yelling late into the night while we sat in our rooms and covered our ears with our pillow to drown out the anger. Haunted.
Some of us remember when our father left us. Haunted.
My fiancée lives with a memory like this, every day of her life.
Her father was an alcoholic. Some people would jump on this. He had the problem, he had the disease, it’s his fault. And, while I am inclined to agree with them, it does not change the need that my fiancée had for a father. She was fatherless under the shadow of her father. I remember talking to her about all the memories that she had with her father, the good and the bad. There have been times when she would reminisce about the smell of her father’s work clothes, which she could never forget. She would reminisce about the times when he would let her drive his truck by sitting on his lap and steering. There were also the memories of his binge drinking. Blowing up his truck in their back yard. Waving a gun at the cops threatening to kill them, and himself, if they came closer.
All of this led to a cross-over for my fiancée. In November of 2005 my fiancée’s father committed suicide. She will forevermore have to live with the memories, good and bad, that her father left her. She will forevermore question why. The ghost of her memories has become a question: Was I not worth fighting through the problems for?
But what about being haunted by the lack of memories?
There are many stories of people that will never know their father. Jeff, a friend of mine, has a story that fits into this category. As long as he has been alive it has only been his mother and him. She is everything to him. His father was never around, and they never spoke about him. Jeff never understood why. He often asked and his mom would dodge the question as best she could. Finally, he decided to be straight up with her. He wanted to know about his father.
His mother proceeded to tell Jeff that she was raped. 9 months later he was born.
Jeff will forever have to live, haunted by the lack of memories with his dad. Haunted by the actions of his dad. Much like my fiancée, Jeff will always frame the memory of his father by the only action that he is known through. This haunting then turns into many other questions for Jeff. Is he worth anything? What? Is he a mistake? Is there anyone that he can go to that can affirm he is not a mistake?
Chained to the past, the fatherless generation lives a haunted existence. Their souls are like haunted houses.
Now we, fatherless or no, need to be there to affirm them. Only then can they reconcile themselves to the questions that arise from the haunting of their memories, or lack thereof, of their fathers.