Every diamond.

There is a vision I maintain of who my father was.  Within this encapsulation, there are almost certainly creative liberties I’ve taken to smooth out the rough edges.

No man is perfect but am I robbing him of his journey?  The rugged perseverance he had to display to provide is a direct cause of his broken body.  When the journey ends in ashes anyway, it can feel as pointless as the pile that used to be Tim.

Even now as I attempt to summon a nuanced portrait of the man I knew well, I can feel myself pulling at the reins.  Was the man truly worthy of lionizing?  The gut check response is yes.  I collected evidence of this immediately following his passing.

No one had a bad thing to say.  But isn’t it the case that people always try to think the best when someone has passed?  I feel like I do a disservice to myself if I am at all dishonest about who I saw when I looked at him.

Dad trusted too much for too long.  He expected the best from everyone and would deny evidence if someone didn’t live up to it.  He always allowed room for grace.  It was a misstep that he was aware of and in his attempts to overcorrect, he started to become bitter and angry.  His well-earned frustration of 40+ years was impossible to hide and by the end, he was suspicious of even the most well-intentioned people.  It hardened an otherwise open and receptive man.  This was the price the business asked of him, and he gave willingly because he thought it was right.

Ironically, dad didn’t trust anyone to do the work he paid them to do.  Years of watching people take easy roads and just plain slack off took their toll.  In the last year of his life, dad became increasingly agitated by all of the perceived laziness of his employees.  I believe he came by this agitation honestly.  He keenly observed others working after his body denied him the opportunity.  This observation used to lead to advice and a guiding hand to help anyone how to do a thing better.  By the time he was ready to hang it up, it just looked like a bunch of barking at people to stop being lazy or they were fired.  He had run out of patience, and I have had to wrap my mind around that.  I foolishly believed his supply was endless.  That wasn’t a fair judgment but everything I knew about him said the supply would never run out.

When Josh inevitably failed in spectacular fashion, dad blamed himself.  He could never understand the power of the substance he was up against.  He honestly believed that his son was just being stubborn and didn’t want to do better.  The substance was calling all of the shots all of the time.  It was only once the substance started making mistakes that cost 10s of thousands of dollars that dad reached his breaking point.  It’s a point he reached a dozen times.  His only failure was the blind ignorance all parents must experience up against such a chemical enemy.  There is no rationalizing whom a person becomes when they decide methamphetamine is for them.  Parents have an innate ability to rationalize for their children, though.  When you put that much of your love into something, you expect greatness from it in return.  But it’s an unhealthy expectation to place on yourself and your child.  The most heartbreaking thing about it is that it couldn’t have been any other way.  Josh had to burn out.  Mom and dad had to love him anyway and think better of him.  As an arguably more objective observer of this pattern playing out, I had no such illusions about my brother.  But I didn’t have the weight of creating a life bearing down on me.  The point I’ve rambled to get to is that Josh’s wounds were entirely self-inflicted.  No one to blame unless you believe addiction is the boogeyman people make it out to be.

Near the end, I recognized some paranoia coming through in dad.  He felt as though the world was out to get us as a small business and that we never contributed to anyone’s doubt about our performance.  We routinely cut corners to get shit done faster and to save money because there was no margin in our work.  When this inevitably blew up in our faces, dad found an enemy and decided it was them out to get us.  It didn’t happen many times but when it did, dad committed entirely to the premise.  We cut a corner on a floor pour and lost more than 40,000.00 for the bargain.  Until the day he died, dad maintained that we got fucked, but we were made to correct our mistake, simple as that.  Dad couldn’t see his way to fully admit what had happened because he fully signed off on this butt-fuckery.  He just hoped we didn’t get caught but we did.  I spent an unreasonable amount of time engaged with this behavior and seeing how at odds it was with whom I believed dad to be.  It did much to humanize dad.  I attempted to bring rational thought into the conversation but he would shut me down and say we were just getting fucked again.  We got past it but that project is the one I will always remember as the one that fundamentally broke him.  It’s part of the reason I dropped the business like the dead weight it was the second dad passed away.  There was no more driving force to push the boulder up the hill.

Just like that, in the space of a few circuitous paragraphs, I allow the flaws an opportunity to speak up.  It feels like the secular version of a confession.  The things I would never discuss with the man himself because I wasn’t about to tell him who he appeared to be.  He knew who he was, and it’s part of the reason it’s hard for me to find his faults.

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