"Let us not look back in anger,
nor forward in fear,
but around in awareness."
Why do you have to leave, asked her father.
Because I've got bills to pay and responsibilities at home, she said.
Why don't you stay, he said.
I've got to take care of my dogs, she answered.
Give them away.
I love my dogs.
What you're saying is you don't love me.
Daddy, if you need me to stay, I can.
I don't NEED you to stay.
And then the pause. She waited, holding her breath. I stood in the kitchen holding mine too. Would he step up to the plate or let her down ... again? Her being the little girl in the grown woman's body who knows her Dad is dying and wants to hear him say certain things even if the chances are pretty slim he won't. After awhile the words "I Love You" can be said by rote. The child is looking for more.
The silence loomed and the words [I WANT you to stay] were never said.
I felt like I'd been punched in the gut and I was only an observer. I saw her tears. Ran to the rescue by filling the silence with explanations of how he is; but she knows. The little girl knows too. Perhaps that's the reason for the tears. Here at the end, all of us, Dad included, wanting - it feels like a need, but really it's just a hope/dream/want - to know we mean something to each other.
I think (though it does not make it better or excuse it) my father cannot say the words we want to hear. For whatever reason, he just can't. And when he gets to a place where he comes close, then he has to back away. He has to deflect it so he "messes" with us.
Now she's busy cleaning every inch of the kitchen counter. She's sad, I think. Perhaps with that old confused angry fire in her gut. I'm sad, too. And a little bit pissed.
There comes a time, I've been told, when each of us must begin to parent our inner child. We need to give the little one inside of us the things that we know (s)he needs. I wonder why that is so hard. I wonder if, when my Dad passes away, will I stop looking for validation from him, and grab hold of the concept of self-giving and and self-receiving the kind of love I really want. The kind that says, "You're okay, Baby Girl, just the way you are. I love you just the way you are. I'm proud of who you are. You are a shining star in my world. Don't be afraid, Baby Girl, I won't leave you stranded. I've got your hand right here in mine and together we can make it."
Later that same day:
Dad seemingly has no idea he ruffled any feathers. Is he that manipulative? That oblivious? That mean? It's possible the answer is yes to all those questions. I choose to believe he just doesn't get it. And .... drum roll, please, I am finally beginning to realize that that is more about him, than me. He's not going to have a miraculous moment on his deathbed and say everything his daughters have wanted to hear for the last sixty odd years. The thing for us to do (maybe I should just speak for myself) is to accept his love on his terms and know that he's doing the best he can. That's all we can really ask of others and ourselves, isn't it?
Wishing for you peaceful awarenesses,