My Dad

Editor’s Note:  Lloyd Rosen was born in New York City. His family moved to Fair Lawn, New Jersey where he lived through high school. After high school, Rosen attended a local community college but stopped after one semester and enlisted in the Air Force. After being diagnosed as unfit for military duty, he was honorably discharged and returned to New Jersey where he found a job in the hospitality field. Rosen met his first wife in 1978 and relocated across the country to Seattle. They were married for 12 years and have two children from that marriage.

In 1998 Rosen met his second wife and together they set off to see the United States. They moved first to Nashville, Tennessee then to Jacksonville, Florida where in 2001 Rosen had his first real experience with major depression. It was there that Rosen first thought about and planned to commit suicide. Fortunately he did not fulfill his desire. He got help but did not get the real life changing help until 2006 when he and his wife moved to Texas. It was while seeing a therapist there that Rosen started writing. He published his first book Search for Happiness My Journey from Darkness into the Light which he hopes to use to help other people realize they are not alone in their fight with depression. Most recently Rosen was divorced from his second wife.

Rosen loves bowling competitively as well as continuing to write. He is currently finishing up his second book. He also enjoys traveling and sightseeing and has been to 46 of the 50 states. You can find out more about Rosen on his website.

The following is a story about having depression and life with a man who would not accept that I had an illness, my dad. I discuss in this story the life I had being my parent’s son, and not recognizing that I might have more of a problem than just the pains of growing up. In the following story I get into the more positive things that my dad and I did once we grew to understand each other and find that we had some things in common. Life with my dad, at times, was a very up and down emotional roller coaster. I look back on my life growing up as a life that experienced physical, mental and emotional abuse. Why? For one, my dad had what I would consider, from what I could surmise, a very troubled childhood due to the way his dad treated him. He, not knowing better, just treated me the same way thinking that he was doing right. My father very definitely was a man who used physical force on me. He would hit me with anything he could get his hands on from a strap, a metal stapler to a breadboard to a barbecue grill top. He also would use his knee and plant it in my stomach. This was after the first time I cursed at the dinner table in front of him. Having been mentally and emotionally abused, the physical abuse was not half as painful.

As far as being mentally abused, I remember those times as well, if not better. For more times than I can even remember, he would call me dumb, stupid or lazy. He even went so far as to call me a moron. He always finished the conversation by telling me he knew I wasn’t any of those things and that I should just use my brain. It still hurt me then and when I think about it still brings pain to me. I don’t know how a father can use such language to his child. Because of this I have never used those kinds of words with my children nor do I think anyone ever should. As far as emotional abuse, I can say that I do not remember my father telling me that he loved me in the 41 years that I had lived up to the time of his death in 1997. Did that hurt? Yes, but now I understand it was not him but his upbringing that caused him not to say it out loud. I actually never verbally told him I loved him either. It was not until Father’s Day of 1992, the year that I was divorced, that I wrote the words in a card. It also was the year that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At that time I realized that the clock had begun to tick on his life. I felt I needed to express my feeling even if he wasn’t going to.

My parents were the kind of people who would take their vacation without their children. Until we were old enough that we could behave ourselves or, at least,  that was their way of thinking and condoning their decision. Until then, my maternal grandparents would watch us. I wish they had taken us earlier because when we were allowed to go, I had a very good time. I learned on these trips with my dad that I had an interest in history similar to his. Our first vacations were to Pennsylvania in the Lancaster County area which was my first experience with the Amish. It was great. We took tours of the Amish farms and I got to see and learn how they lived. We also stayed not far from the Gettysburg battlefield and my father, having an interest in the Civil War, took us there to tour the National Park. Thinking back on it, this was my first exposure to American history and it was a very pleasant time to spend with my dad and come to the realization that we had more similarities with our interests. He took the time with me to read the notes on the displays and explain things to me, to teach me and give me the opportunity to learn. I am grateful to him and have him to thank for my interest in American history.

After a number of years going to Pennsylvania, my parents decided to try something different. They went to visit Cape Cod. Pennsylvania held many memories for me, especially since I had the fortune of meeting and marrying a Pennsylvania woman. As I grew older and went on vacations with the family, I found my dad to be more relaxed and share more happy times. Like the time a meteor shower was evident in the late night sky over The Cape. He did not just let us stay up, he actually was up with us outside the motel room, watching the show and pointing things out so we would enjoy it more and learn from the experience.

On vacations my mom, who is an avid shopper, would spend hours and I mean hours going to different stores or shops. That of course left those hours for my brother and me to spend with dad. Again, we got the chance to not just hang out, but to go places that my mom and sister would not want to go, such as historical cemeteries, or historical Provincetown, where the pilgrims first landed in America. Life got better as I grew older, my dad and I had similar interests that helped us to talk more. I don’t really think that my dad could relate to us when we were children and/or younger. This is a situation that I saw in myself when my two were younger.

I grew to be an avid sports fan, so we talked and watched baseball games. I had interests that ranged from sports to the news of the world as well as the weather, so that helped us to grow closer. It gave us topics to talk about after I moved away to Seattle in the summer of my 21st year. Believe it or not, my dad’s schedule never allowed him to go to any of my functions such as baseball games when I was playing or even attending a Major League game.

I moved away from him in 1978 to Seattle where I resided for 21 years. We would talk on the phone often about those things that interested both of us. I tried to get to see him at least once a year at family affairs, or just because I missed him. He came to Seattle on three different occasions. The first was for my wedding to my first wife, Chris, in 1979 and then again in 1990, right after the birth of my son. The last time was in 1995. He was diagnosed in 1992 with Alzheimer’s and was able to make his third visit to see me shortly before he started going downhill. After all the abusive years earlier in my life and then trying to forge a relationship after years of pain, I had to come to the realization that now it was time for me to take care of my dad.

On his visit to Seattle that summer I finally got my chance to attend that Major League baseball game I had never gotten to attend as a youngster. To this day, I still remember the Seattle Mariners’ game against the Baltimore Orioles. My father had started to go downhill and now it was my time to be the parent, taking him to dinner and making sure he got to the restroom and more importantly, did not get lost. Yes, I did have years of pain built up and yes, I was angry with him for things he had done, but it was now time to make amends. I had a daughter and a son and knew now what it was like to be that parent he so long ago tried to be. It was time to share. It was time to make sure those memories were there.

As it turned out it was the last time I would see my dad when he would have all his faculties. It was for me, at least, a very good memory. I did not see him again for 15 months. In December 1996; I had come home to attend a family function. By then, my father was a shell of his former self, living in a nursing home, and the worst thing of all is he did not even know who I was. That just crushed me. I was not prepared for it. It just took me by total surprise, especially when that moment came and she asked him if he knew who I was and he said no. I know it was the disease, but it still hurt all the same. I knew then that it was time to prepare for the end. The end did not take all that long to come considering how long some people suffer with the disease. He died in September of 1997.

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