I have many mixed and uncomfortable emotions about my father. Our relationship has been too close, too distant, too uneven, too silent, too codependent, too controlling, too bitter, too poignant. I cannot in my lifetime remember having a direct, heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind, loving conversation with him -- one where he asked and listened, and I asked and listened.
Until a couple of years ago, my parents and I were estranged.
Before the estrangement, I desperately needed them and especially my father, to help explain the incredibly painful memories of early childhood abuse my mind was coughing up in therapy. I needed their input to help navigate these long repressed experiences and to heal. They could not give it, and I would accept nothing less. So began thirteen years of silence that ended when I reconnected to make peace with them.
Toward the close of those thirteen silent years, I weighed my past pain against the person I have grown to be. The character that makes me who I am is due in great measure to my mother's and father's highly responsible parenting. Acknowledging this does not diminish my early childhood abuse, pain, or my healing. It does help balance the burden of my experiences.
Faced with a default decision that would not let me see them until their funerals. I couldn't do it. My father is 85 years old and although healthy, he's old. My mother is 84 and is not in good health. I am conscious of the little time they both have left.
Letting go and moving on did not come easy to me. I had to choose faith over fear. My minister suggested I stop by for tea and, with that simple advice I breached a thirteen year old chasm. I figured if I could exchange peace with strangers in church on Sunday, I could do it with my parents.
Father's Day is hard. I thought about buying a card. And then I bought a card with no message. Then I carried it around for a couple of days, past Father's Day while I thought on what to write. I wanted to ask from the heart. And if he spoke I would listen.
A belated Happy Father's day. I would love for you to write about what being my father is like and was like. What were your challenges, joys, frustrations? What would you never change? What would you do differently?
Hope you had a great day.
“Don’t be afraid. Just have faith.” (Mark 5:36)
Fear and faith are like side-by-side walk in closets. Every day, every moment life gives you a chance to choose which one to enter and which outfit to choose. Fear doesn't have to be absent to choose faith. It's actually the stimulus to faith.