Millions of children around the world grow up fatherless, and in America this phenomenon can be cited as a significant factor in the deterioration of both our culture and our society. Fatherhood, and more importantly fathers themselves, are critical. For those of us who were fortunate to have had a father who helped raise us, most can point to multiple instances of friction and conflict over the years. Fathers, like all human beings, are imperfect and the relationships they have with their children can be complex.
Yet in most cases, particularly when the father is nearing the end of his life, bygones are put aside, attempts to reconcile are made, and the father’s eventual passing is lamented. The mourning begins as children process their loss. But in the case of Lawrence H. Pfaff, Sr. who died on June 27th, his son’s scathing obituary shows just how sad and awful father-child relations can be.
As reported by NBC News, the obituary written by Lawrence H. Pfaff, Jr. was…
“[P]ublished in a Florida newspaper over the weekend [and] described the deceased as a ‘dad to none’” whose death ‘proves that evil does eventually die.’ Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr., 81, of Belmont, New York, died June 27. He lived ‘a long life, much longer than he deserved,’ according to the obituary, which was published Saturday in The Florida Times-Union.
Writing the obituary was a process of healing from his childhood trauma, his son, Lawrence Pfaff Jr., told NBC News.
He described his father in the obituary as ‘a ladies’ man’ and an ‘abusive alcoholic,’ ‘solidifying his commitment to both with the path of destruction he left behind, damaging his adult children, and leaving them broken.’”
Not surprisingly, the obituary received quite a bit of attention. While Pfaff the younger had expected to receive a lot of negative feedback, he actually received quite a few positive reactions. Folks with similar life experiences told Pfaff that the obituary had helped them heal from their own pain. “If we can help somebody else see that it’s okay to stand up for yourself and tell the truth, there’s really nothing bad that should come from that,” said Pfaff.
For those of us watching from afar, those who know neither the family nor the obviously dysfunctional circumstances that led to the posthumous rebuke, we should be careful not to judge. We don’t know what caused those relationships to become so toxic. In fact, we don’t know anything other than what we’re being told by just one of Lawrence H. Pfaff, Sr.’s children via his scornful tribute. But there are certain things we do know.
We know that a man recently died at the age of 81 and that he will now be widely remembered as the man who had a blistering obituary written by his son. We know that a son, and perhaps several siblings, felt so damaged by their father’s parenting that there seems to be little, if any, grief now that the father is dead. And by the reactions of so many others, we also know that clashes like those amongst the Pfaffs are far too common.
Finally, we also know this: Anyone who can look back fondly at their relationships with their own fathers, and who feel true loss and grief when they pass, we are indeed fortunate. We should pray for peace for the surviving Pfaff children, we should pray for mercy on the soul of Lawrence H. Pfaff, Sr., and we should thank God Almighty for blessing us with the fathers we had.
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By Jordan Case
Jordan Case offers opinions from the unique perspective of both entrepreneur and parent and is a regular contributor to The Blue State Conservative. Jordan does not participate in the cesspool of social media.
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