Christmas Eve would have been my dad's 66th birthday. He's been dead just over 14 years now and out of my life for another 12ish before that. I visit his grave every year on his birthday and the anniversary of his death in the end of October. I don't remember a whole lot of him, but he cared. There are stories. He was quick to laugh and he was quick to help a friend in need, great electrician and voracious reader. He was also a heavy drinker and would sometimes punctuate talks with my mom with his hands...also, liked gambling...especially the horses, which is why I dislike those majestic animals. In another time he may have been diagnosed a manic depressive or bi-polar, but he wasn't somebody to get help so he was just recognized as a blue collar guy that drank too much, lived life exactly how he wanted and was given a pass sometimes becauses he was a medic in Vietnam and saw things nobody should.
For a long time I didn't know what to make of both sides, but as I grew older I've learned to appreciate and try to forgive. I learned what a man is and what one isn't from him...or the lack of him. I understand that he did the best he could, but some people have a different path that is full of bumps and inner struggles that aren't easy.
Anyway, I hope he's found peace wherever he is and can look down with some sort of pride on who I've become and what I hope to grow into.