|I remember feeling that I didn't want to know him.|
|I remember feeling like we were destined always to be alike.|
My Daddy. His mother always said that he wore his heart on his sleeve. Well I suppose I wear mine in writing and painting, which is both my way of processing, and my way of being truthful with myself. Honesty comes with a necessity for compassion and generosity. I will never know who my father was to everyone else - it's hard enough to know who he was to me. So I have to look at our relationship with open honesty - with appreciation for the good, as well as acceptance of the not-so-great.
|I remember feeling simultaneously embarrassed and proud.|
I want to live in truth. I want to express authentically, moving through the things that hurt instead of imagining them away. I don't want to live in anger, fear, or sadness. I want to celebrate the things that are good; the things I hope to carry on; the things that make me who I am, and happy. So in this I am celebrating those things about my Daddy, while acknowledging and accepting that he, like I, was a whole person.
|My two fathers, making amends for my sake and their own.|
|Five grandchildren each knew him differently.|
|And he loved them all.|
|He learned to lead by example instead of by force.|
Love is not an easy thing. Daddy hurt me immeasurably, and he loved me immeasurably, too. He grew from loving me possessively and angrily to allowing me to follow, to invite, to show up, and in doing so he taught me to accept and to be present.
In death, he taught me that searching for forgiveness was never necessary. I just have to accept: He loved me, I loved him, and he's gone.
A few years after my grandmother died, I taught myself how to knit, by watching her hands. After attempting to follow knitting instructions in various books, I gave up, and just played with the needles. I closed my eyes and watched her hands move, as my own hands followed, and within a few minutes, my body had learned what her body passed on to me, through the memories of my heart. Legacy is not necessarily something we plan for. I don't know what my Daddy's legacy will be ten or fifty years from now, but I know that his struggles were not in vain. I know that I have learned from his perseverance, his bravery, his grace, and his unwavering love. He strived to be a better person. What more can I ask for in a father?
|For better or for worse, these are the words I chose to send into the cremation with him.|