I am embarrassed, yes bare-assed to admit that I could have thought such a thing about my daddy’s dying of a sudden heart attack in 1977. Maybe even shocked. But why should I be? I am human and still a child at heart. I have always loved my father. As a very young child I would run down the driveway to meet him when he arrived home from work. He would open the green Chevy door, and lift me onto his lap (tears) so together we could drive to our house. This ritual I would share every other day with my sister who is one year younger than me. I have many together-memories with my dad who was an equal-participatory parent with my mother who stayed at home, being way ahead of his time. So, how could I be relieved that he passed away? He was only sixty. We could have had many more good times together. Shouldn’t being together be the preeminent confession? Dad became a diabetic during his service in WWII, creating how my parents met; my mother being the nurse who took care of him on the ship sailing home after the war. They fell in love, and that’s how I want my story of dad and me to end. But like today when the wet snow is breaking off huge maple tree limbs in April, I am saddened to admit that I was relieved that I did not have to experience the burden of taking care of my diabetic father as he aged. My dad, calling himself the geezer, had voiced to me more than once that he did want to become a burden to his children. Still, wasn’t my love strong enough to want to do so? Dad was still working as a researcher in space sciences at Cornell university when he died, despite being blind in one eye; a common result of diabetes. Dad took good care of himself with exercise and eating properly, visibly embarrassed when by chance I saw him one day at work with a cigarette in his mouth. He would hide his smoking at home in the basement, away from his family. For that I am greatfull; hiding the smoking that is. Now, I want to hide, my admission, despite the advantages of his early death. That dad would not suffer from further blindness, having to continue years of daily insulin injections, from possible kidney failure and common amputations of the lower extremities, where he was most vulnerable. Now, I want him back!!! and have for years. So many tears of missing him continue to fall, which open my heart to the pain of his 52 years of absence. (tears) I would be more than happy to take care of him now. If only. Since his death, I have become a psychotherapist who grew into grieving for the sake of love. As in the 2012 silent movie, The Artist, where I was surprised to read a placard, TEARS OF LOVE; a statement I had never read outside of my journal; I wish to make such a bumper sticker. Just last week, my 18-year-psychotherapist-friend, Sue, who rejected me in 2010, was walking down the sidewalk near me, and as I turned to see her, I spontaneously smiled, saying, “How are you?”, moving to hug her. She replied, “Good,” and continued walking without losing a beat in her step. Her evasion of me was not surprising; my feeling of continued love for her was not surprising either. My littered-feeling of pride in myself I wish was not there. In the past year I have developed a very deep friendship with another psychotherapist, Gayle. We walk in the woods often, taking in the healing beauty. A month ago, I found a near perfect tear-shaped rock while with her, lovingly carrying it to my door-step. Since then, during one of Gayle’s nature-walks alone, she asked the Universe to give her a heart-shaped rock for Dianea, and within 3 seconds, she looked down and found one, the size of a real heart. She was so excited she called me, saying, “I have never had such a wish answered so quickly before.” Just a week ago, Gayle left a tear-shaped rock at the entrance of my office, identical in size and shape to the tear-shaped rock I had recovered from the woods. She says we are soul-sisters. It can only get better…the presence of LOVE that is.
WOW! The first daffodil bloom in my garden the day before it is officially spring! Usually, daffodils are not out until may in central new york state. And, it is alone in its blooming although there are many budding nearby. I am reminded of my daddy-dad who bathed me as a youngin’ in the 50s, took his children on Sunday walks in the woods, built my sister and I doll beds, and a swing set as tall as our home’s roof top…well almost. One of my fondest memories is dad carrying me down Aurora street as a five-six-year-old, because I am bandaged due to being burned by an overturned coffee pot. I feel special despite my bandaged bottom. Dad, was way ahead of his time as an equally involved parent, while my mother took care of three children providing excellent family dinners together, adding her abilities as a stay-at-home registered nurse. She serving pink junket on a tray to her sick children in bed makes me smile as I write. Yet, dad is my role model of loving compassion because he wanted me when I was not his biological child, and mom did not as I was hers biologically by rape. Dad chose to love me anyway, which felt equal to the love of his two biological children. Mom was the strict religious disciplinarian; dad the nurturer despite being a research astronomer at Cornell university. Dad was alone in being ahead of his time, like the daffodil I admire in its aloneness today. He was one of the first men in our town to volunteer at the newly formed Suicide and Prevention Crisis Service where he answered phone calls from those in crisis during the night shift once a week. I was an adult by this time, and had followed my mother’s footsteps into her RN profession, although I had sworn as a teenager not to be like my mother. Still, I became more like my dad as I went on to receive a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, which I continue to practice for over 25 years. I have taken the parental reins of influence into being in therapy myself even though I hadn’t felt particularly depressed or anxious…I knew something was missing within my soul: my own beliefs and trust in myself. I knew I was a good mother for my two daughters, yet found myself in a painful fourth marriage that lead me into primal therapy: crying, sobbing over the sudden loss of my dad from a heart attack many years earlier, and unresolved childhood anger and hurt. My heart was broken open to tears easily triggered like when I would look into my granddaughter Denali’s (tears now) eyes, while lying on the floor at her Waldorf school on grandparent’s day (sobs), she looking into mine without wavering. I became more and more aware of missing the very essential element of love that has no fear. Ever since that day with Denali when she was four, I have felt that my dad’s (more tears) spirit came back in her, as we have continued to have a very close connection as she grew up to be a freshman in college this year. Just last night, when I called her, she immediately says, “I was just about to call you,” and I reply, “it’s our psychic connection,” really our spirit connection. A week earlier she had told me how she was aware of becoming more of her own person when she moved back to Ithaca where I live, she then being nine. “I looked to you more,” she tells me, my heart swelling as if a colorful beach ball. Once again, I recognize and know I am connecting with my dad’s spirit, like I looked to him everyday of my childhood to come home from work, to relieve me from feeling unwanted by my mother. This past week, while talking on the phone to my sister about going to the cemetery where our parents ashes are buried, she tells me that mom cried almost everyday while growing up. I am surprised and say that I don’t remember that. She validates that mom would use her as her confidant, not me. I do remember mom crying occasionally and more so as adults when I would bring up sensitive topics. Although my mom had been embarrassed to cry easily, I had thanked her for that in her last days, because it was through my crying and letting go of my anger toward her, that helped me to love her (again.)