171 // Painful Obstacles

“Thank you for being there, for checking on me, and always making me laugh. Thank you for being my father and my friend.”

I wrote this in my Father’s Day card yesterday. I hadn’t seen my dad since my grandmother’s funeral this past February, and our quick dinner at the local barbeque place felt wholly inadequate. I miss him and I miss the closeness we used to share. I want to say so much to him about all the ways he failed as a father and all the ways he succeeded too. There just never seems to be the right time or the right place

I suppose I should be grateful. At least we have a relationship at all. My siblings each fall between indifferent, indecisive, and angry at my father. My family, as with many families, has troubling histories and harmful cycles to face, but anger and fear, however justified, prove to be painful obstacles.

None of us can control any other and doing our best, being self-aware, open, encouraging, and willing has only so much impact on the behavior of others. They have to want it too. They have to be ready and they have to see a reason. They have to see your reason and no amount of explanation alone can force it. Having patience while gently, gently planting seeds and setting good examples is all you can do.

And this, I think, is the job of any big sister but to be the oldest sibling means bearing both the burden and the blessing of radical love and acceptance and it has to be held for the self as much as for others.