Fathers, Present and Absent
My father and I had a very interesting arrangement which must have been a soul understanding. I only saw him for the first three years of my life and there was a huge gap of forty three years before we met again. When we reconnected we had only had two times that we actually met and sat down together. The first time we met he came and visited us here at our farm. The second time was at his home in Ottawa. The reason I’m mentioning him is because something he said to me on that second visit has stuck with me since he said it in 1996. He said “ Sandra, your mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy. When I want to do something and my mind comes up with a reason not to do it, I ignore my mind and do it anyway. You want to go for a walk and your mind tells you to stay home because it’s raining, take and umbrella and go anyway!” That was such a good piece of advice! I am grateful that we got to reconnect before he left the planet and although our physical time together was brief it gave me the opportunity to grow and find an ending to a missing chapter in the book of my life. The first time we got together was at a time when we didn’t even have street numbers or GPS systems in cars so I suggested we meet in town which was ten kilometres from home so he could follow me back. I wasn’t sure I would even recognize him as the last time I had seen him I was three and we had had zero communication since then, no photo updates or anything. I wasn’t sure how I would feel when I met him, I really had no expectations one way or another. The feeling I had when I saw him will stay in my heart forever. His car pulled into the parking lot where I was waiting for him and this big feeling of joy came from within and spread into a big smile on my face. My inner child was beaming saying ” There’s my Dad!” This was a huge surprise to me. There was no resentment that he had been absent from our lives for decades, no anger that he hadn’t made any attempt to connect sooner, only a child’s love for her father no matter how he had behaved. It didn’t matter that there was a huge gap where he had no part in my life, all that mattered was I was seeing him again. I hugged him and said ” Do you realize it has been forty-three years since we last saw each other?” He replied with tears in his eyes “Forty-three years too long”.
The next time we met I visited him and stayed overnight and we chatted until the wee hours of the morning. He did not try to excuse himself for his behaviour and I could see he was a man who owned his stuff. I said goodbye the next day and was surprised that I was emotional and teary. I guess at some level I already knew that would be the last time we would get to chat face to face. He was admitted to hospital the next day and I was at his bedside when he passed away four days later surrounded by his children from two marriages.
I am not sure what made me reach out to him earlier that year. I thought I was doing it for my mother as she had moved in with us a few years prior and we had been at the farm for a year and I felt he should know that Mom was staying with us. I had known for years where he lived and had never felt like contacting him as he had another life with his other family. I’m so happy I listened to that inner voice and sent him a change of address for my mother. He replied immediately and called and said he had been looking for her for five years. They had a good reunion and my mother forgave him for whatever reasons she had held in her heart for decades. They decided that when they were both gone that their ashes were to be scattered together. That’s quite the reunion! Chatting with my new found siblings after he passed and sharing stories I thanked my father for being absent. I could imagine that had he been around in my younger years I would have found him way too strict and authoritarian for my liking. He stayed out of the way so I could grow and be who I am without his interference. After chatting with him I discovered he and I shared so many interests in the healing arts and ten years later in Thailand I was taken by a colleague to meet this Healing Tao guy in Chiang Mai and I found myself meeting the author of a book my father had mentioned to me and suggested I buy. When my father passed no one else was at all interested in all his books and tapes and so they had been given to me.
Today being Father’s Day, and every day, I thank him for all that he was and all that he wasn’t for me. It was all part of my journey and a huge learning opportunity. I am happy that I was able to reach out and reconnect with him.
Love never dies.