Love Your Daddy folks!

The perfection of divine timing that puts the right people, in the right place, at the right time is miraculous!  I believe it happens everyday. All too often we’re unaware of it.  Sometimes, perhaps years later, in a moment of reflection we’re fortunate enough to look back with inner clarity and say, “Oh. My. God. Divine syncronicity!”  We see how we were placed where the divine needed us to be to help another person…and in doing so, help ourselves.

This truly happened:

And I listened…

As we sat beneath old lady oak trees

Whose knobby limbs groaned silently

Beneath tangled locks of Spanish moss.

And I listened…

“I am alone and dying.” He said. “Cancer.” He said.

And I listened…

While still and sultry air,

infused with the saltiness of the sea

Bathed me in tears of sorrow.

And I listened…

“My wife, my children left me. Years ago it was…

I run them off with my temper, my drinking…”

The old man confessed his transgressions

to me, a stranger he’d only just met.

And I listened…

We were the only people in the park.

We sat together beneath the cruel 

Penetrating gaze of the sun on a 

Sweltering “HOT AS HELL” July Day.

And I listened…

“Now I’m dying and I gotta do it alone. I regret how I lived my life.

I miss my family, but I understand why they done what they did.”

The old man’s mournful words

Hung despairingly heavy around us.

And I listened…

With my heart. My judgement rendered mute

By compassion, by empathy.

At his story’s completion, I knew.

I had just heard the confession of a dying man.

What solace did I give him?

…I listened.

There is so much I could share about this experience, but it’d be a book!  I will say I had been waiting to meet family at the park, only to discover I’d been at the WRONG park the whole time. When this was brought to my attention, I clearly remembered where I was supposed to be. I couldn’t figure out how I had got it into my head to be at the park where I met the old man.

His story was familiar to me… I loved my Grandpa Peterson’s brother Melvin very much as a small child. He called me “Tootsie Wootsie.” He told stories, sang old tunes, played the piano & harmonica and DRANK! A LOT! He’d had a family once, a wife, child, grandchildren…, yet he lived in the dilapidated, old house on the farm drinking his old age away alone, without them. He’d been a terrible husband & father. Yet, I loved him, because I was little and only knew the present version of the old man. Plus, he would get so sad sometimes, he’d just sit and sob. I felt his sadness.

His story was familiar to me…because of my own dad. A robust, healthy farm boy, He was 15 years old when my mother fell in love with him. He really liked motorcycles. Dad became a biker (think Easy Rider) and consumed a lot more than just alcohol. Mom divorced him when I was five after he abandoned us to pursue the glamorous life of a hell-raising biker in California. At age nine, I was whisked far away across the great USA by my new stepdad.  A life awaited me free of all the trauma and pain my birth dad continued to create “back home”. He was Uncle Melvin’s nephew, kin to him in both good and bad ways.

The day I met the old man in the park, my dad was about 50 years old and still very much in the lifestyle. I rarely saw or talked to him, it was just too painful for me.  Still I loved him as abandoned children love a parent, desperately hoping for a better tomorrow; somewhere over the rainbow where my Dad would be healthy, clear-headed, and remember me on my birthday and Christmas.

That day in Florida, I was the old man’s compassionate listener. I’m very good at listening. Also, I learned early in life to love unconditionally, to reserve judgement. I had witnessed plenty the excruciating, inner pain experienced by people suffering from addiction. How guilt can cause a person to continually bury themselves in mind altering substances over and over and over again. How those substances can change people into monsters…who when sober are flooded deep with remorseful sobs.  I know of the need to be heard, to be listened to. There is great cathartic value to confession.

What did I receive from listening to the old man’s tale of woe?  I was able to start releasing my own father from what I wished him to be, to accept him as he was.  Gradually, I have been able to forgive him completely.  Completely.  I am not close to him, we have so little in common. However, I wish him well in all things. His health is very poor from years of abuse, I pray for his comfort and well being all the time.

A huge chunk of my creative gifts come directly down the line from Uncle Melvin and Dad.  I made sure to learn from their example and not abuse substances – BIG thank you to them on that!  Now there’s a gift for sure. Best gift ever really. I am better at practicing ARTitude because of it.

I now realize I was compelled to write this post leading up to Father’s Day. It wasn’t done consciously on my part. gosh. I only notice this as I close.

Love your Daddy folks! If you need to forgive them, do so, it feels awesome afterwards, and life is all the sweeter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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