Having lost him much earlier than I ever expected (his parents lived to be in their 90's), we never really had a chance to discuss or resolve the underlying barriers to our relationship as adults. As children, obviously my siblings and I learned to fear him and choose avoidance as our primary survival strategy, and have consequently suffered for many years in our collective self-esteem and concept of our place in this world.
As I remember him, I am sad for what I'm sure was a lifetime of suffering for him, as well as the harm he ended up inflicting on others, no matter how unintentionally. Even on his deathbed we could find little to say to each other. The best I could do was to tell him to go peacefully, hoping this was enough to convey my love and forgiveness even as I still struggle daily with my own anxiety and depression. He joked weakly that maybe he would stick around to haunt the politicians he'd forever held contempt for.
He raised us. He did not physically abuse us. I choose to believe he did his best, and pray that we can each find healing from living with his anger and often bewildering behaviour.
If there is a lesson here, perhaps it is that we all have to take responsibility for our health, mental and physical, both for our own sake as well as those who love and depend on us. I have spent decades studying psychology, sociology and personal growth and struggling through some pretty disastrous personal relationships to get to where I am today. I'm doing my best.
Happy Birthday Dad. I truly hope you are in a better place now. And for anyone suffering, remember you are not alone. Information, resources and help are available at your fingertips from organizations like the Canadian Mental Health Association.