Tuesday, June 16, 2009

I was so much older then...I'm younger than that now

I remember a quote about children judging their parents and rarely forgiving them. My Dad will be coming home from the rehab on Saturday. The next day will be Father's Day and in all likelihood it will be his last. I used to be so scared of my father. He was a tall and large man. He had a short fuse and he yelled. I didn't live in the same house with him until I was in fifth grade. He was in the Navy and travelled all over while we stayed with my mother. Sometimes we were near Naval bases and others we would stay with my grandparents. When they built a house around the block from my grandparents on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. we were in our glory. We had my grandparents a short walk away and our own house. We moved in when I started kindergarten and lived there through my fourth grade year when we moved the following fall to N.J. It was heartbreaking for my grandparents. It would be the first time we would actually have my Dad around for more than just weekends. He landed a great job in New York and we just had to make the move. We bought a house twice the size of our old one and for the first time my parents actually had money. It felt strange. My father worked a lot of overtime at Mount Sinai Hospital. We adjusted although we were two hundred miles from the rest of our family. My Dad was from Louisiana and was an only child. We only saw his parents about half a dozen times during our childhood. They would never fly and the drive was too much. I was at their home twice in my life.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about my childhood and adolescent years this week. When I was younger I was so proud of my father for coming from nothing and doing so well. He was intelligent but his deep Southern drawl was something kids made fun of. In high school kids would say "NAIL, can you rustle me up a tall glass of iced tea?" and laugh hysterical. Now, I see people look at my Dad with pity and sometimes an unpleasant look and I want to defend him. He is helpless. That breaks my heart. For Father's Day I want to do a cook out. My mother thinks it might be too much for him but I have it all worked out in my mind. I have come to realize this: you only get one father. He can never be perfect because none of us are. As you mature you know and see his faults. At some point you have to forgive in order to be at peace with yourself. At the point forgiveness comes, you find that you have peace. It's a wonderful thing.
(This is MY personal experience, I realize not everyone could or should forgive.)
For many years I hoped my Dad would ask for my forgiveness for certain things. He never did. It would have been so much easier to do it had he asked. He always favored his sons. I always knew that it would be his girls who would take care of him when/if the time came. His sons do help in other ways but they find it so difficult to see him like this that they can only take small portions of it.
It is a hard thing to go through. Somedays I wish I had a crystal ball. Heart failure is not something that can be measured by an xray. We live from day to day never knowing. Each day I wake up thinking what a gift it is. One more day of and I list all the things I enjoy. My job is stressful but I am very fond of some of my coworkers. I struggle at times to make the payment but I am thankful to have a nice, dependable vehicle to get to work and other places in. My pets drive me crazy at times but they give me affection at times I need it desperately.
I have wonderful, caring neighbors. My sister and I have forged a new relationship that has come out of this situation. It's stronger than before and I find that my friends don't really know what I am going through but she does.
So much good has come from this that I believe it is all part of the larger plan somehow.
I remember when I was 19 knowing I knew it all. I now know I know very little. Each day I learn a little more. I am more open minded now than every before.
We live, we learn, we grow.


Judith HeartSong said...

You are loved Nelle, and your ability to love is great.

Thank you for years of friendship.

alphawoman said...

This was such a wonderful post so full of love and understanding.

Missie said...

You wrote a lovely post! I'm so glad your dad is coming home in time for father's day. Enjoy the day!