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.

169 // This is My Gift

Tonight we saw my dad for his father’s day celebration. As always, it was a wonderful visit, and as always I wish there wasn’t that strange gap between us. It’s a hole that opened between us the day I was born, I imagine, and though it’s width has grown no wider since that day its depth has gone beyond our ability to fathom and our courage to leap over.

Such gaps between parents and their children are common, but each one is unique. The one between my father and I, from where I stand, is made of all my love, and all my anger, and all my wondering and regret. Its depth is all he couldn’t give and all my incessant wanting.

I’m sure from where he stands it must look different. From his side it may be darker, made of much more past and much more pain. I know this and for this reason I hold his hand above the fissure and squeeze it in forgiveness. For this reason, I ask nothing more than what I know is possible. This is my gift.

Happy Father’s Day.

167 // Talking to Dads

We never made it to the parade. I’m just still so exhausted from yesterday’s celebrations and shenanigans and I’m still so sore from all the walking and my ankles are beat up from the new shoes I wore. There was no way. All I wanted to do to was stay in bed but we still had so much to do I just had to suck it up, suck down some coffee, and do my best to be engaged. I think I did okay.

I didn’t get to see my dad (he had to work) but I called him, of course. He sounds tired, stressed, maybe sad? I worry about him a lot but it’s hard to tell him that because the way we talk to our dads is different than the way we talk to our moms. Maybe I will though, because the way we talk to our dads shouldn’t be different than the way we talk to our moms.