My husband has great memories of his father, he adored him and constantly yearned for his attention and approval. Sadly, those good memories are mostly from his childhood. In the 13 years that I observed their relationship, I'm afraid that his dad didn't reciprocate much. He was often dismissive to him and seemed preoccupied. There is no doubt that his father loved him and wished the best for him, but he clearly had emotional issues that may have held him back from expressing his true feelings.
I had no relationship with him. During our visits, he avoided my husband, myself and our children. He would go to his room and hide while we would visit my mother in law. I would guess maybe a total of 50 words had been spoken between he and I in the time I knew him. I was always resentful that he had no interest in getting to know his grandchildren. My heart ached for my husband's pain when he felt rejected by him.
I don't what caused his pain and probably never will. I do know that his sisters worshiped him, much like my husband. He was so loved and I'm told he was a fun and charming man "in the day". With this knowledge, I tried to not hold animosity and see his emotional struggle for what it was-severe depression.
My husband and his family sat next to his bedside watching him struggle for his last breaths of life. This image is now haunting my husband. His father's weakness and fear at that moment will be imbedded in his memory for a while, I'm sure. I think maybe this was God's way of showing, in a tangible way, the invisible pain he had been suffering for so many years. I know it's cliche, but he truly is in a better place- a place without physical or emotional pain.