15 June 2013

Freewrite Saturday: Our Fathers

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments,
when they aren't trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.
~ Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum


T
ell me about your father. 

What a potent word, father.  Such power ~ in both the word and in the role ~ to hurt or to heal.

No matter who you are or what kind of relationship you had (or have) with your father, it is never something you can ever be ambivalent about.  Even those sons and daughters who claim indifference are usually hiding deep hurt or anger or longing.  After our mothers, there isn’t another person who exercises a greater influence over who we are and who we become.

For better or for worse.

Even significant others don’t hold the power that fathers do.  How many times have you heard that women marry men just like their father?  Or that men end up doing things like their old man?  Not that I don’t think we can’t heal or change the path we’re on; that we’re somehow fated to make the same mistakes as our parents.  Quite the contrary, I’ve seen people experience incredible healing, especially through re-fathering. 

But I’ve also met men and women who still yearn for their father’s approval, who wish that their father had shown them more affection, or in some cases, more appropriate affection.  Women who still struggle with self-image because their fathers never told them they were beautiful.  Men who never seem to succeed at anything because their fathers encouraged and supported them.

Some fathers are physically absent.  Some are emotionally absent.  And I couldn’t tell you which is the greater hurt ~ who can judge when the child experiences the pain of loss and abandonment either way.

But as I said, there is hope and there can be healing.

My father is an incredible man.  Before the ravages of age took away his strength, he literally could do anything he set his mind to.  He rebuilt and renovated our house, planted extensive gardens, grew Christmas trees, fixed leaky pipes and re-wired sockets.  He cooked gourmet level dinners, and told wonderfully imaginative stories.  And when I was young, he listened attentively to my own stories, rambling and slightly incoherent though they may have been.

But he wasn’t perfect.  Still isn’t.  Who is?

For those areas where he simply wasn’t able to give me what I needed growing up, I was blessed to have different father figures step in ~ a different one at different times in my life.  And I still occasionally meet and become friends with gentlemen who still show me aspects of what it means to be a father.

I’m not perfect.  I’m still healing.  Who isn’t?

But knowing them only made me appreciate ~ and forgive ~ my father more.  So in that sense, I’ve received a double blessing.

Oremus pro invicem,
~ Mikaela
How will you celebrate Fathers’ Day tomorrow?

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