BY: Stephan Fouche Sr.
Where to begin…. Always wondered why you didn’t say much. I knew that you were hard working husband of 50 years to our mother Julienne, and helped take care of 4 kids (Yolene, Fritz, Roland and myself). Figured that since I was the last of 4 children that you were worn out by the time I came along. Just to put it in perspective, my father was 44 years of age when I was born so he was 51 when I was 6 (I know right…yikes). Had respect and healthy fear of you, but never really knew you and that was on both of us; let’s face it, a younger me had anger issues growing up. As the years went by the more I started to understand that we were very much similar then different; socially awkward (unless we had a couple of drinks), led by example, lacked empathy for others, and had great work ethic. I remember you trying to teach me how to play soccer when I was 7 and showed little interest, you seemed disappointed and that was the last day you showed me how to do anything or so I thought. Why did I have to be an adult to find out you knew a Spanish along with English and Creole, that you were an athlete, you know how to fix cars, played dominoes, etc. That could’ve been times for us to bond; but I got it…. you wanted to do those things but you didn’t know how to approach me, were getting older me being 16 when you were 60 and still working full-time.
Playing football and baseball in high school and remember showing you when I made the local newspaper and you showed minimal interest, but when I wrote for the school paper you used to hang all those articles up in the living room. When I asked you why you simply pointed at the “Written By: Stephan Fouche” and simply said “your words". When I was 19 I was trying get my first decent car and remembering being short a couple grand we talked about it, I figured I just didn't have enough and you snapped at me saying “Damn why don’t you just ask me, I’m your father!” It never occurred to me to just ask, in fact I never really asked for anything from him after the age of 14.
Fast forward to an even rougher time as you started to develop dementia it was hard for all of us, but for me as your condition got worse and you didn’t remember me anymore I could help but to think of all the conversations we didn’t have. Most of our dialogue if not an intense argument it was about the Cubs, Bears, Bulls, and World Cup which was very rare. There were so many things going well in my life I wanted to tell you about it, thought you would be proud of me but it was too late. Then you passed away a couple of months ago at 80…. wow I couldn’t help but think to myself, he had a long life. While juggling those feelings of your death and being in the middle of a divorce, I struggled. I thought of you how consistent you were in the hardest of times, that got me over the hump. It made me realize as a father myself I must be at the least as consistent as you were to me. I will always be thankful and love you dearly…. didn’t say that enough when you were here….
I figured writing to my father would help me through his passing. I often preach pealing all the layers off the past to start over and move forward. My father wasn’t perfect at all but he was a great man, that instilled values in me even when I didn’t realize it. I am a father of 4 and not under the ideal circumstances being a co-parent but I just try my best to show love to them.