I have to remind myself not to look at Facebook on certain days like Father's Day because people will express their heartfelt appreciations of love and devotion to their father. And for years, I thought something was wrong with me because I didn't feel that way. When Dad passed away in August of 2014, I wrote a piece about him and it summed things up pretty well.
I loved him but I didn't feel emotionally connected to him. I know he loved me but I couldn't feel it. He was who he was, and he wasn't changing. I had to accept this and make peace.
It takes time to accept people for who they are even after death. (And accepting myself...)
On occasion, I am surprised by certain emotions that come to the surface seemingly randomly. When I become verklempt or the hairs rise on my arms and legs, this means a loved one is around. A few months back, on a weekday when Mallory was off from school, we went to her favorite place to eat at the time. After we went through the Picadilly cafeteria line, we discovered a gentleman playing a keyboard. We sat down and as I listened, my eyes began welling up. The ugly cry was just around the corner. He was playing music for the "older folks" in attendance. I can't remember the songs exactly but as we were leaving, Blueberry Hill was being played. Dad was present. These weren't my songs, some of them were his. He loved dancing and that is how he and Mom courted. And she would want me to mention they won a dance contest on one of their first dates in the late 1950's!
Holding the tension. Holding very dissimilar and opposite notions at the same time and being at peace with both of them. This is spirituality to me. This is what Jesus was teaching but his message has become very cloudy. Mysticism...another topic for later. Except this writing is mysticism.
On Father's Day, I signed Riley and I up to make and serve an entree with other National Charity League moms and daughters at Bishop Ott Men's Shelter. We went to a bleak part of town in a run down building and found thirteen men in need of an evening meal. These were men who had no where else to go. Part of me wanted to sit down and engage with them and the other part of me wanted to get the job done and escape back to the comfort of home. My heart is a bleeding one. I root for the underdog. I put myself in their shoes. I remember listening to a woman from Connections for Life talk. She had been in jail and was in a transition program to learn life skills to rehabilitate her life. All I kept thinking was, wow, that could be me except I was afforded the opportunity to go college. College doesn't change everything but it's a major leg up.
Dad really wanted his children educated. He and mom sacrificed for private school in our small community, and for college educations for my siblings and I.
I came home from Bishop Ott and felt affected. As the men ate, the group of moms and daughters discussed ACT exams and Junior and Senior years. The future. One man walked off with his belongings in a trash bag and waited for a ride at the bus stop. The contrast between the two groups stayed with me.
These men were appreciative for the meal and expressed it. The supervisor of the site, prayed over our meal, for us ladies in particular and our travels, as well as for the men there.
Later that night, I read my sister's FB post about my dad. She had a different experience of him having lived close by each other and Dad's ability to fix or create almost anything around the house and property. I didn't have this experience and for a brief moment, I felt longing.
And then it came together.
I thought of the day's experience and holding the tension. My experience can be different even with the same person. Even though I very much wanted to be emotionally connected to my dad, I can hold that tension and be grateful that Dad showed his love in another way. He wanted me to be educated. That opens so many doors and opportunities. I can feel that now.
Dad put me in a position to be a helper. I can be with a person in a very different situation than I, look at that person in the eye and smile and serve a meal. It is a small service but it is one that I can do.
Holding the tension, being in the present moment.