Friday, July 15, 2011

Broken Promises and Big Love

Last night I made some kind of silly FB promise that I would write about my dad today.  The problem with dad is I don't know where to start.   For those who never knew him I don't want to start with the negative because you will get a picture of him and some of it may be true, but you will not have the full picture.  There is no way I can encompass all that was John Hammond Lotane in one post.  Its interesting to me that I don't talk about him often or write about him at all, but he crosses my mind at least once a day. 

I guess I can start with this:  Our relationship got better after his death.

Oh God, I know how awful that sounds but when you are dealing with an addict everything about that relationship can be hurtful even though that is not the addict's intention.  That is what I always knew about my dad.  The love was always there and the love was BIG.  That man knew how to love people.  He just had so many demons to fight and no idea where to start fighting them.  His love of people got sidetracked often because of his love for alcohol.  Perhaps that is not fair.  Perhaps he hated alcohol.  He just lost the battle and boy did it piss me off for many, many years. 

As a kid my memories of dad are either just positive because I tend to see the damn sunny side or they are very selective.  I picture him leading us in sing-alongs at our Christmas parties.  That man could sing.  When he came home from business trips he would always have a gift for me.  Boy did I LOVE that.  I had no idea what guilt was at that age or that he was feeling so guilty for the things he did and didn't do.  I just thought, "my dad is my hero, he brings me stuff, why does mom always seem angry?"
I can remember one time when he asked me to get his briefcase out of the car and there in the back seat was a brand new bike.  That was one of the fewer bigger ticket items in our life that did not get repossessed. 

As I got older and once he moved to the Cape while I lived in Vermont I would spend summers with him.  I think now this must have hurt my mom.  I was alone often and when I did get to go with him it was to a bar.  Sitting at a bar with my dad is probably where the majority of out time was spent from age 11 to age 25 when he died. 

This is much harder than I thought.  Figuring out how to share my dad with the world at large and describe him without demonizing him.  He has been gone for 14 years this September.  I miss him everyday and yet, there is a part of me that wonders if I ever knew the real him. The one buried beneath the alcohol.  I absolutely got to see my dad without alcohol in his system and I will be the first to say that that is how I liked him least of all. He was mean. He needed a drink so badly that everyone around him was standing in his way and it made him quite irrational.  It is very similar to my mom when she broke her pelvic bone and the pain was severe.  As she came off the pain pill she would get nasty (different than just crabby or grumpy)  and I started to realize this meant it was almost time for another pain pill.  At that time, my mother knew that was not a good sign and she did everything in her power to wean herself off of those pain pills and she succeeded.  So, it can and could be done, but my dad couldn't do it and I am still not sure I have forgiven him that weakness even though that feels awful to me and not right because we all have weaknesses.

Blogging about dad is going to have to be a series because there is just too much.  But, I will leave you with this for today.  I believe my dad loved his family with all of his heart.  I believe his problem was that he didn't love himself.  I also think he was one of the smartest men I have ever met and I mourn the wasted talent that was John Lotane. 


  1. Family is complicated.

    I am estranged from my father and 'his side' of my family. I have spoken to him three times in the past thirty years. Twenty years ago, I spoke to him at his father's funeral, and then again at a family wedding weeks later. I recall that he was strangely polite. He didn't presume an intimacy that we don't share. He was apologetic for seeing me in 'these circumstances' and complimented my mother for 'doing a good job'.

    Ten years earlier, I met ran into him by chance. He didn't know who I was. I don't know if he knew who he was.

    The year before that, he was 'my father'.

    My father is still an addict. At least, I have to assume that as I Googled him this spring and found that he is alive. I know because he was arrested for driving with a suspended license and posession of a controlled substance.

    For someone that I've had seemingly so little contact... he's left a big impression.

  2. Your honesty is appreciated. Family is complicated. Addiction feels even more complicated. I do feel lucky that I was able to experience my dad's love, but in a strange way it also adds to the guilt of the anger that is inevitable with this kind of relationship.