I was 15 when my daddy died from leukemia. I called him Daddy until I was 30 years old, which is when my counselor pointed out to me (gently) that adults don’t usually use that term. What she didn’t know (and neither did I, back then) was that parts of me were still very young.
My dad had Issues, major ones. He did some very bad things, and for awhile I was really angry with him.
When I was a child, though, the dissociation I experienced made it possible for me to see him as two very different people: the “bad daddy” who hurt me, and the “good daddy” who helped me learn things and showed me love in appropriate ways.
He was very smart. When he took the test to become an air traffic controller, he made a perfect score. Before that, he had been a math and science teacher at an elementary school; as a result, he taught me math and science things that I might not have learned otherwise.
It took me a long time to forgive my dad, and one of the ways I showed that I had not forgiven him was that I didn’t put flowers on his grave at Father’s Day. I still can’t put any flowers there today, but it’s because I don’t live there anymore and I have no transportation, rather than because I haven’t forgiven him.