Dan Miller grew up in a family of nine children in Wisconsin. His family was poor, and his father supported them by working at a local paper mill.
At StoryCorps, Dan talked to his wife, Celeste Januszewski, about his father’s legacy and what it meant for him as a parent.
Click here for the transcript.
Celeste Januszewski (CJ): How did your siblings react?
DM: I don't think we ever talked about things. But, I remember counting the empty beer bottles with one of my brothers. You know, like, we would sometimes keep tabs.
And one time he had my mom fix him eggs. He wanted one over easy and one scrambled, I guess. She brought it to him, and he said the wrong one was scrambled, and he just took the whole plate and threw it against the wall.
You know, when my mom told us they got divorced, it was just like a big relief over my body to know that he wasn't there. I didn't want anything to do with him.
But, when I went to college, I was having nightmares about him being violent, and that's when I finally went to go see him. And I just realized he couldn't hurt us anymore. That day was a revelation. I just walked away.
CJ: I'm really sorry you had to go through that.
DM: Me too.
CJ: How do you think your upbringing has affected your being a dad?
DM: Well, in my twenties, having kids around was very scary. I didn't know how to relate to them, and I was so frightened. I even tried to get a vasectomy, and the doctor wouldn't do it. But, once we met and decided to have a family, I just tried to be honest and make my girls laugh. I mean, I'm sure I messed up, but I was resolved to break that whole cycle of abuse.
CJ: Do you think you did?
DM: Yeah, I did.
CJ: Yeah, I think you did, too.