Why My Dad Moved In With Us When We Were Newlyweds

I was caught in the middle of two important male relationships.

daughter and her father sharing coffee halfpoint | Canva

I was a 21-year-old newlywed when my father moved in with us. It was my husband’s idea.

We had just bought a run-down duplex that needed a lot of work. At the time, my father was working for a couple who owned a motel, and he did odd jobs for them such as painting and repairing even in his late 50s. My husband thought it would be perfect if my dad moved in and did the same for us.

When my father agreed, I was super excited. Because of my parents’ breakup, I had to spend a lot of time away from him growing up. Still, he was a wonderful father, and I was much closer to him than my mom. The thought of getting to see him all the time made my heart happy.


Dad moved in and began work. He spent almost a day painting our spare bedroom, which had been an unfortunate yellow. Before we knew it, the room was white and sparkling. My husband was happy, and I was excited at the thought of our arrangement working out. I’d always been able to talk to my dad more freely than anybody, and I looked forward to a lot of long conversations.


After he painted, my dad decided to go to bed because the job wore him out. He and my husband went over what still needed to be done and made some type of schedule for when my dad could work on things. I was so proud of my dad. He could always fix everything, and I knew he would make the whole duplex beautiful.

After my husband and I went to bed, my dad came into our room at 2:00 a.m. He said one sentence that put the fear of God in my heart.

"I think you better call 911."

We both rushed out of bed. My dad was having chest pains. My husband called an ambulance, and I began to fall apart. When the paramedics came, I begged them to let me go into the ambulance with my dad to no avail. My husband and I drove as fast as we could to the hospital.


My worst fears were confirmed. My father had had a heart attack and needed surgery to put in three stents. I stayed by his side in intensive care every minute I could. After surgery, my dad stayed in the hospital for another week, and my life became exhausting from spending time at the hospital, working, and barely sleeping.

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When my dad came back to our house, he wasn’t the same. He spent a lot of time resting, and he understandably became worried about his health. I knew he felt terrible about not being able to help us fix up our duplex, but we certainly didn’t expect him to do anything after what he’d been through.

I loved my dad more than anything. When I was growing up, he used to take me to the drugstore and buy me little presents. We played Black Jack for hours on end. When I was older, he’d leave the fashion magazines that he knew I loved on the kitchen counter to surprise me. Most of all, we trusted each other completely and talked about almost everything. I didn’t have that relationship with any other person, not even my husband.


It hurt me to see him that way, not being able to do even the simplest things. He’d been such an active person his whole life, and it had to be hard to slow down against his will.

About a month after his heart attack, my husband started to get irritated with my dad. Obviously, things didn’t work out as he planned, and he started to feel resentful.

Once we were going out and forgot something, and we pulled back into the driveway where my father was smoking a cigarette. My husband blew up at me and demanded that I tell him to stop, especially after his heart attack. He didn’t realize my dad was stubborn and would do whatever he wanted. I was caught in the middle and got mad at both of them.

There were other similar things my husband wanted me to tell my father. He didn’t like the fact that my dad had gained some weight and wasn’t taking care of himself. Back then, I didn’t know much about clinical depression. I wouldn’t have it until later in my life. As it turns out, it’s very common after a traumatic event with health issues. He was also recovering from heart surgery, which only added to his stress level.


I didn’t want to tell my dad anything my husband said. Just because he lived with us didn’t mean we owned him. I certainly never meant for him to be our servant — I just wanted my dad around all the time.

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One day I was getting ready to go out. My dad made a joke. I don’t remember what it was because he had a million jokes that he told all the time. Looking back, I think it was one of his old "dad jokes." He caught me in a bad mood, and I laughed sarcastically.

"That was an evil laugh," my father said in a sad voice.

"Oh, I didn’t mean it to be," I told him sincerely.


I was simply stressed out. My husband and father weren’t getting along anymore. I had just gotten married a few months before, and there was already a strain in our relationship. I honestly didn’t mean to laugh in a cruel way at my dad’s joke, but the pressure was getting to me.

I came home from work a few weeks later, and my dad told me he had some news. He wanted to go back to the hotel he used to work at, and he called his former bosses who accepted him gratefully. My heart broke on the spot. How was he supposed to work there and do all the things they wanted him to do after having a major heart attack?

It hurt so much that my father would put his health in danger because he thought he wasn’t welcome to stay with us.

My husband seemed a little relieved, but I felt like the most horrible person alive. I was crushed that we’d been so hard on him that he didn’t feel comfortable anymore.


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My father died about ten years later. He was still working at that hotel when he had another bad heart attack. As I did a decade before, I stayed by his side the whole time. When he came out of surgery, he was delirious. He didn’t recognize me and thought I was my mother. He got so agitated that I had to leave for a while.

When I came back, my father’s doctor told me that my dad had developed a blood clot in his brain and that the chances he would recover were slim. When I was in the waiting room, I kept hearing "code blue" over the speakers. It turned out that was for my father, who was dying over and over again.

I went to the side of his bed and put my head on his chest. How was I going to live without my beloved daddy? I stayed that way until my husband insisted that I go and rest. He offered to stay with my dad while I did.


I went home and slept for half an hour when he called to say that my father had died.

I believe to this day that my father waited hours for me to leave the room before he was finally able to let go. It was like he didn’t want me to see him die. I felt sad but grateful because I wasn’t sure how I would have handled it. It was his final kindness to me as a daughter.

I know I had one of the best fathers who ever lived. He endured a lifetime of abuse but promised himself he would break the cycle with me. He did. He was never unkind, always loving, and the funniest person I’ve ever known.

I still feel bad about how I treated him when he stayed at our house years ago. It was the first and last time I ever felt that way, and it has left a mark on my soul that is slow to heal. I feel sad that he had to work so hard all throughout his life after the heart attack, but I also know that he was a very strong man.


He was the best father that a young girl could have imagined.

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Glenna Gill is a writer and blogger from Charlotte, North Carolina. Her articles have been featured in Scary Mommy and P.S. I Love You. When I Was Lost is her first full-length book, a memoir of love, loss, and hope.