Hi again!! Thank you for your patience, and for all the information!!
Simply put, it is clear that you were raised in a dysfunctional family, and you developed coping skills that helped you to avoid conflict and to manage the frustrations and pain of an unavailable father and a mother who tried to manage, but who clearly was unable to take control. This probably created great anger that you will want to express, and you may want to begin a dialogue with him to get it off your chest and give him one more chance to respond and repair it. I highly doubt he would even know where to begin, though... as your mother's observations about him having had a rough childhood is something he never dealt with and probably never will. Some people just don't know how, and don't want to learn out of fear of what they might find. You, on the other hand, don't want to make the same mistake--- and are going to work through it... and I congratulate you on wanting to find peace!
So many people are wounded by poor parenting, and so many choose to repeat the same mistakes, never looking past their own history and being doomed to repeat them. You are not alone, by a longshot. The remedy to the pain is to analyze exactly what you needed and didn't get, why that was, and to grieve your losses, be angry about them, and eventually to make peace with it... while making a conscious effort to give yourself what it is that you need now. So, let me ask: what were you cheated of? What were you always left hoping for? What effect did his distance have on your self-esteem? And what would you want him to know now, before he leaves the planet, that you may regret never having said?
You have one chance to live; this you already know. My motto is "Have NO regrets." Something you might find helpful is to write, stream of consciousness-style, everything that you want your father to know and take your time to do it. Revise, rewrite, etc... until you feel it is absolutely correct. Hold nothing back, as the damage is already done to you... and now it is your turn to take this heavy load off your shoulders and place in squarely back on his. You will find that by releasing your regrets and anger and pain, the burden will begin to lift. Now the final piece: you never have to give him this letter, if you so choose. Or, you will. But this decision will come later. The act of writing it will be cathartic in itself, and will bring it all to the surface so that you can toss it right off the cliff... and begin anew.
You have the choice to decide how you want to live from this point forward. Do you want to attempt to repair any of these relationships? Or do you want to just sort of "trust the journey" and see what happens? Your sister is holding a grudge, and she feels self-righteous about it; this is her option. You can tell her it hurts and you miss her, but ultimately it is her choice to let it go or not. Your father may never come around; his dysfunction sounds thick and embedded. Yet, it may do him a bit of good to hear that you want to find some peace despite his inability to love you as you needed to be loved; he may get some peace by the contact you initiate, as well. Not sure!
As for your own family, the daughter you mention, you didn't say if you have contact or not. But, if you do, then your sister's opinion is a mute point. Otherwise, maybe there is more work to be done there?
These types of personal awakenings are some of my favorite situations; when you know better, you do better. When you identify the missing pieces and actively search to find them and put them back in place, you can finally become wholeheartedly who you want to be and were meant to be. And, THIS time, it is on YOUR OWN terms, and not at the hands of someone who was responsible for your upbringing, but hadn't any clue about the serious nature of that job. You are now going to take control and give up your identity as a victim of circumstance. Take your power back, and begin now!
I am so glad you ordered this book; you will see what I mean once you start reading it! Let me know what thoughts my reply brought up for you, and I am happy that you have decided to begin this process of resolution!! :-)