This may be the most personal blog post I’ve ever written. Many who have known me are familiar with the struggles I’ve had with my dad throughout my life. I am now 31 years old, married and a mother of two little boys. I know why I felt as I did, but it’s time to let that go, own up to my mistakes, say I’m sorry and if he were still here today, I’d say to him, “It’s okay, I forgive you.”
I read somewhere a long time ago that forgiveness is the greatest gift a child can give his or her parents. For we are not perfect and we make mistakes along the way. I look into the faces of my children and I know I’m not a perfect mother, but I love them so very much. It would shatter my heart if they resented me and kept me out of their lives.
If my dad were still alive, I’d let him hold and love his grandchildren. I imagine his heart would have been filled with joy and gratitude, and I’d see it in his smile. Perhaps these tender feelings are easier felt because he is no longer here. But as I sit and think upon the choices I’ve made, I am inexcusable.
Several years ago I heard a man speak about how his family was moving away and he was consumed with regret for all the things he did not do yet. Because now it was too late. They were moving away. As I listened to his words and watched him cry, I cried too. How sad it must feel to know it is too late and your chance is gone?
Now I do know what that feels like. I only hope that when my dad and I see each other again on the other side, that we will be able to embrace each other as a loving father and daughter would.
For many years I allowed anger to frustrate my ability to see past the end of my own nose. I had a very bad attitude. I’ll never forget the day I went to speak to my home teacher. In our LDS faith, he is someone who checks in to make sure you are doing okay. He knew nothing of my past. Just that I had moved to London and was going to university there. I told him I had a hard time adjusting to things and felt alone. The rest of the time he spoke about forgiveness and how I needed to forgive my dad. I thought, how did he know that? Sadly, I brushed off his counsel.
I cannot recall the last time exactly I saw my dad. Maybe it was the time he met me in Canning Town? It’s been so long. If I had known that was the last time, maybe I would have been kinder to him. Or chosen my words more carefully. Years later we found out he had cancer. I should have gone to see him. I should have let him hold me. I should have said good bye. I should have told him that despite everything, that I loved him. The news came quickly and he passed sooner than the doctors thought. It was too late. He did not deserve to die without his family. As a parent, my eyes and heart have been opened to so much more understanding. It must have broken my mother’s heart to see so much feuding amongst those she loved the most.
Traditionally on tombstones there is often an acronym: RIP. Rest In Peace. I will let him rest in peace. I will silence all negative talk about him from my mouth. He did do good things when he was here. It will be those things that we should remember. My mother loved him dearly. We owe her the respect.
My dad was a really good cook. I’m still trying to figure out how he made this spinach and bacon crepe filling. It was delicious. I’ll keep experimenting.
The more I welcome good feelings into my heart towards him, my mind is remembering the good things.
Everyday I think, I want my kids to feel they have a happy life. I want my mom and dad to know that I loved my life growing up. I had a lot of fun! And I got to experience things a lot of other kids didn’t. I may not have appreciated it then, but I do now. I know there were challenges, but it built character. I know we had trials, but it gave us stories. I wish I could have told him that.
I hope that we can all learn forgiveness. It’s not easy when we feel we have been hurt or wronged, but it is required. I want peace in my life. Peace in my heart. I want to recognize the good in others, because I want them to see good in me. And not focus on my faults. That doesn’t feel fair.
Sometimes when I think about my dad I cry and don’t know why. Maybe I am feeling the sting of what could have been but wasn’t. Maybe I am just being a girl who longs for her dad and misses him. Maybe they’re not my tears, maybe they’re his because he wishes he could hug me but we have to wait. He always loved giving us hugs when we let him. Maybe like most parents, he too, felt we grew up too fast.
Rest in peace dad. We’ll see you again one day, and I promise things will be different. They’ll be better. I love you.