I spent a lot of time today with the memory of my dad. I feel like the past few weeks have been so filled fending off the poisoned barbs of hatred that I kind of lost focus on letting in the things that are really important to me.
My dad was one of the things that was really important to me. He wasn’t perfect, but he was such an influential person in my life. He was exceptionally unreasonable during my teenage years (I have no idea why…) and we could really get into it sometimes, but through it all I knew that he loved me unconditionally and always had my back.
Actually, my parents were/are such great examples of what unconditional love is. Even when I’ve been at my most lost and scattered, they have always provided me with a safe place to land. That security of having people who are there for me no matter what is so important, it gives me the freedom to take chances and explore who I am and what my purpose is.
After Dad died I had a lot of friends and family come up to me and express their gratitude for things that Dad had done for them. He had often stepped in and given support, and frequently free legal advice as well, to the people in our lives. He not only provided me with that sense of security and trust, but he gave it freely to so many others as well. He lived with a sense of abundance, not holding onto his knowledge or love, but spreading it around because there was enough for everyone.
He showed me what to expect from a man. Someone who not only worked hard and was successful at his career (and he was very successful), but who lived with integrity, spent time with his family, laughed, loved, and jumped full on into life. I think I took it for granted that because this was my experience all dads are like this. I will never take that for granted again. They’re not.
He not only took great interest in the things that we were doing – I can think of him sitting for hours listening as I babbled on about whatever was my current obsession, probably wanting to stab his eyeballs out, but smiling and encouraging – but he shone that same love and support on his grandchildren. My kids still talk daily about things they did with grandpa and how much they miss his presence. The way he lived his life has made a huge impression on Jacob, and he talks often about becoming the kind of man grandpa was. Jacob is already a good, honest young man. I have no doubt he will make his grandpa proud.
I realize the older I get how exceptional my dad was. I’m realizing in fact how exceptional my entire family is. I don’t know how it happened, but I won the awesome family lottery in that I have this ready made tribe of people who are so strong, loving and kind.
My mom sent me an email this afternoon letting me know that my dad was listed in this year’s Canadian Who’s Who. It’s so wonderful to read about his accomplishments, but to me his real achievement was the kind of person he was. The way he lived his life is something I can hold onto and aspire to. I will always have his tendency to have temper meltdowns (blow it out and move on), but that’s part of being human. To live with an open heart so that people can trust and depend on you as my dad did – that’s a real life achievement.