Thankful today to my Heavenly Father for the Father he blessed me with here on earth. Daddy passed away in 2003 - oh how I miss him - especially finding myself on this Father's Day in my Mother's home with so many photos and momentos of Daddy.
I learned a lot from the passing of my Father and in the hours upon hours that I've spent in the years since, reflecting on him and our relationship - about who he was, the role(s) he played in my family, and through these reflections, I've learned alot about MYSELF. Thank God that I had learned about some of those things in the few years prior to his passing too!
It was so easy - when he was still alive and the thought of his passing seemed something that may never happen - to see his "flaws" and to focus on what I thought were unsavory things about him. It was so easy, it seemed then, to find fault with him and see him as the reason I made so many bad decisions, the reason I felt not good enough, the reason I put myself in an unsafe marriage in a desperate attempt to feel loved, the reason I just couldn't put my life together in any healthy way. And no, Daddy wasn't perfect. He was, like all of us, only human. The truth is though, that it was easier to accept my failings if I had someone to blame for them. And isn't it always so easy to blame our parents?
I remember that when I was a very little girl, Dad would pick me up every day from the sitters and say "There's my Treasure Chest!" Sometimes on the way home he'd stop at Dairy Queen and get me an ice cream cone, then instead of taking the direct route home, he'd take the longer road I liked because it took us past a field with a few horses. When "Brown-Eyed Girl" came on the radio once on the way home he sang it to me. One time seeing the flowers on the side of that Texas road he said, "Every time I see Brown-eyed Susan's I think of your pretty eyes Missy!" He never laughed when I sang "Wildfire" at the top of my lungs - and one time he ate several cookies I made using salt instead of sugar - he never winced and with a straight face told me "These are good!"
Then, I got older. I became a teen-ager. While I wasn't horrible - ok, not too horrible, I did still have the typical "I KNOW IT ALL" disease that most teenagers catch, and I also did a lot of pulling away. S o, of course, once I'd created that distance - I decided that was his fault too! And finally, one day, we just didn't have a good connection anymore, and neither of us could seem to find it.
I got to a place in my mid-twenties, when I knew he wasn't the one responsible for my mistakes. I, and I alone, had made the bad choices I'd made. Still though, I was too proud to admit it. For a while...
I had Rebecca and her birth and my parents being there for me in every possible way during my divorce/pregnancy and life thereafter - helped my and Daddy's relationship quite a bit. But there was still that terrible distance between us. I hated it. He hated it. I prayed about it quite a bit, we both made weak attempts to move towards each other, but it was hard to find a way to close the gap.
Then, Daddy scared us. He almost died. Guess what? It scared him too. He called me from the hospital crying and told me over and over that he loved me so much. And with that, the years-long chasm was bridged. So I thank God that he ALMOST died, because we had a few years after that to continue to reconnect and love each other.
No. Our parents aren't perfect. Yes. They make mistakes. Yes. There are many things we can look back on and point out what they could've done better or differently so that we would be happier adults with less work! As a Mom who has made her own share of less than perfect parenting moves, I realize that parents KNOW what they could've done differently too- and parents feel worse about it than their children can ever imagine. The sooner we accept our parents flaws, as much as we desire them to accept ours, instead of holding their flaws against them...the sooner we become free to love and be loved and have a truly happy existence on this ride called "LIFE."
I am happy to say that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Dad - flaws and all - was a great Dad! He loved me. He loved my sisters. He loved our Mother. He was truly devoted to us all. He was a substitute Father for all four of his fatherless granddaughters - and left nothing but good memories for their sweet selves.
If you are blessed enough to still have both of your parents living - but feel in any way that your relationship with them is not what it should or could be - I strongly encourage you to take steps - no matter how small - to make it better. Try to understand and accept them and love them unconditionally - even if you feel they don't do those things back to you. Pray for restoration of the relationship.
I hope my Daddy knew how much I loved and accepted him before he died - I tried my best to show him.
The song "In The Living Years" by Mike & The Mechanics - ALWAYS brings Daddy to my mind.
Every generation blames the one before
And all of their frustrations come beating on your door
I know that I'm a prisoner to all my father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage to all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years
Crumpled bits of paper filled with imperfect thoughts
Stilted conversations, I'm afraid that's all we've got
You say you just don't see it - He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement in this present tense
We all talk a different language - Talking in defense
Say it loud, say it clear - You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die - To admit we don't see eye to eye
So we open up a quarrel between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future, it's the bitterness that lasts
So don't yield to the fortunes you sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective on a different date
And if you don't give up, and don't give in you may just be okay
Say it loud, say it clear -You can listen as well as you hear
Because it's too late when we die, to admit we don't see eye to eye
I wasn't there that morning when my father passed away
Didn't get to tell him, all the things I had to say
I think I caught his spirit, later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo in my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years