My Dad Never Forgave Me

We were on a boat dock. I am not sure how old I was, probably around six.

This is how I remember it. My brother Mike and I were shoving each other back and forth. He pushed me, I pushed him, and the next thing I know, he was in the water.

Maybe that is not what happened. Maybe I was a mean little six year old who decided to “off” my brother for no reason. That is how my dad seemed to frame it ever after.

Six of us kids were on the dock, with no life preservers. Mike went under water and did not come up for air.

In my dad went. In a potentially life-changing moment, my dad grabbed for Mike and found him.


Up they came. Off we went, from the dock, to the car. My dad pissed and wet. We drove off in the Cadillac with leather seats, some of them now wet. My dad used choice words to express his upset and glared at me in the rear view mirror.

My brother Mike, on the other hand, did not seem mad at me. We went on as we always had, annoying each other, as all of us siblings did.

However, my dad was not one to forgive and forgot. Every few years, for over forty years, he would bring it up, still in disbelief about “the time Marje pushed Mike into the water…” Me, still filled with shame, and regret and also not quite sure how it had happened, but knowing all full well that there was no intention behind it – for me it was a shove away, not a push into.

Never in a million years would I have hurt my brother Mike.

And never once, in all these years, has Mike hinted that he thought otherwise.

photo by Alcineia Albrecht


  1. All’s well that ends well, Thank Goodness! Glad your Dad was able to grab your bro. Not happy that those that couldn’t swim were not wearing life jackets. He was probably very upset and angry at himself for what could have been and put it on you instead. Perhaps as a man ‘back in the day’ it was easier to put the blame on you than himself. I know that my father was never able to say I’m sorry for anything. The closest he ever got was “I did the best I could.” I’ve decided to hear that as an apology.

    1. After writing this post and reading folks comments, I realize that maybe it’s time for me to be the one to forgive and forget! Probably my dad was doing the best that he could.

    1. haha…that’s a nice thing to say Rob! Not what I would have thought anyone would say after reading this post.

  2. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. What a tough thing to carry around with you. I cringe just thinking about how your Dad made you feel. I don’t think parents have any idea what their words can do to us. I dread hearing from my kids what I said – once or a million times- that made them feel shame or rage.

    1. I agree. I’m sure there are things I say that my kids could do without. Also, my dad probably never got over this moment as he was partly to blame. The kids that couldn’t swim should have been wearing life jackets.

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