Two of my many Teachers…
It just takes some folks longer. Longer to figure out what love really is…what it really means. And sadly, it seems that some never really get it. So it makes me even more incredibly thankful to say – and really mean that I know what love is.
A week ago as a family we experienced that moment in time – where everything stands still…confusion rules and you hear the unthinkable…Cancer. Dad has cancer. What?!?! Are you sure?!?! No way…
He spent this last week trying to find out exactly what stage, what his next steps are, what he can expect…just trying to absorb the shock of this grim diagnosis. And face this monster that also claimed the life of his own father…making it doubly ominous.
My dad is by far one of the strongest men I know. Not in the “My dad is stronger than your dad” kind of way (but he probably is, so there). He had a full ride scholarship to UD back in the day as a Linebacker – They even nicknamed him Moose. And he seems just as strong now as ever. He was just helping us take down some trees a few weeks ago.
But even bigger and stronger is his sense of loyalty and love. Like any family – we have had our share of mishaps, misinterpretations and growing pains. But one thing has remained constant…I have always known my daddy loves me. So that makes me a lucky girl right there!
Through the years I may have questioned some of his choices…but as is common – when I became an adult and parent myself – forgiveness was granted as I realized – he is human. So I traded my judge gown and gavel for a pair of big girl pants and honest, unyielding smile.
That was only several years ago, sad to say. It took me nearly 40 years to really get it. But – at least I did get it. And ever since then I have had the most honest-open moments with the people I love the most – including dear old dad.
But, as you may know or have heard…when facing a crisis like this, people become a little more candid…a little more focused on the real…less worried about hurting feelings and just saying what is on their mind. They don’t have time to waste. Wake up call time.
Dad and I were chatting this weekend. He has never been one to talk on the phone…I would be lucky to get 2 minutes out of him before. Not this time.
And what he had to say was almost as shocking as the diagnosis…only in the other extreme direction. Over the course of our conversation he said that I had taught him how to love…how to really love and forgive…and move on…and mean it – unconditionally.
I had to laugh out loud! I was thinking in my head…Dude – Labrador Reincarnate…you ARE the master…YOU taught ME! Love is as love does. I was just doing what he always has taught me – love till it hurts.
But you see – I have put him through more than his share of worries through my 40 years. Nearly all of his amazing silvery gray hair (oh how we will miss his unruly Einstein coif) could possibly be attributed to lil’ ol’ me. Talk about questionable choices…I have made more than my share, again and again…and paid the consequences.
As a parent – I now understand how you can blame yourself for your children’s pain and struggles. It is sometimes impossible to separate us from them. He wishes he could’ve done more, said more, helped more…etc.”.
So, just as he has some regrets of his own that he has to live with…I have mine. But, at some point you just have to stop regretting, and start living! How about I agree to give both you and myself a break, if you do the same?! Revelation.
Both he and I are Libras. I don’t put a ton of stock on horoscopes…but I can’t deny some larger character patterns. We have had our extreme swings from right to left…trying to find our place – weighing all options…yearning for balance. But it seems we have both found our equilibrium. How lucky we are to be there at the same time!
He has watched me digging in the dirt, screaming at the sky, grasping for relief from pain and sadness and anger through different times of my life. But I am so thankful that he also got to watch me transform into this new creature – what I was always meant to be. Peaceful.
My name even means peaceful meadow. 5 years ago, you may have thought my name meant something more like hurricane, poisonous porcupine, at war, or tidal wave. Dad has got to watch me go from prickly, annoying, self-destructive worm to shining (well…mostly), positive and whimsical butterfly…ok – that’s a little much…let’s just settle on goofy moth flying thingy…
Where I had once harbored resentment and anger, I now focus on forgiveness and contentment. I stopped using my circumstances as a handicap, and shifted my perspective from victim and captive martyr to survivor – free, worthy and full of potential…brand new!
One of his more questionable moves back in my youth was when he took us all to see the late night showing of Pink Floyd’s The Wall. He loved PF and thought this was a concert footage movie. He had no idea how horrific the imagery was. We laugh about this now. But how ironic…The Wall. We have crashed through a wall despite ourselves. The wall that divides has crumbled in peace.
Both Dad and I agreed. Peace is found – somewhere between acceptance and forgiveness. Life is just too short. Too short to waste on petty disagreements that left unaddressed can become unmovable mountains of resentment. People die trying to climb those hills alone.
Also – you don’t have to love till it hurts. Love shouldn’t actually hurt…until you have to lose that someone – but even then…there are memories, thankfulness, and hope. But the act itself of loving…and receiving shouldn’t really hurt. If it does – maybe a few adjustments are in order. Usually that means self-perspective adjustments…because if you think you can “fix” anyone, you are in for a surprise.
We also agreed that you can’t make anyone else see that truth…they have to see it for themselves. Time spent not loving…is simply time wasted. You have to surround yourself with positive – likeminded people. Time wasters will only bring you down…because it is exhausting watching them waste away the hours, days, years. Just like we once did.
But no more wasted years for us. Because Love is – as Love Does. It has no choice but to be…and do.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter who taught who, because there is probably a little bit of truth in both sides. I am currently an understudy of my two daughters who are teaching more about love than I feel I could ever teach them. It is an active, living, breathing two-way street…as it should be and will be for as many days, weeks, months, years, or decades as we have.