My Dad wasn’t perfect (none are) however when we loose someone we often go thru different stages of grief and that often includes idolizing them. I lost my Dad to a heart-attack when I was 19 years old – long time ago – and have gone thru many stages, even recognizing him for his faults.
However as I go thru life I am often reminded of the choices he taught me. I remember as a young girl going on visits to grave sites to see those that had passed away and my Mother making me feel as if solemn was the only way to be. I remember him listening to my feelings and telling me that we all handle death differently; such a wonderful freedom he offered me. I remembered this as well when he died and in the midst of craziness I watched as many responded their way and I had my own.
Although there is a lot of hate, anger, jealousy in the world I have learned that I can only chose not to respond, react or be around it; I have the choice because “two wrongs don’t make a right”. Can be quite hard when it comes your way, I know. However I have found that often if you just wait, pause, it passes. There aren’t short-cuts or fast results. Even in today’s social environment we need to be reminded of this; we don’t need to respond to every comment made.
As a young girl I remember going to work with my Dad very early in the morning in DC. We would pass hookers who had been up all night and walking home along 14th Street. I remember him stoping and talking to them as he would learn their story. As we walked away he told me not to judge them and that sometimes people fall into awful situations in their life. From there I would hang out at the Veterans Administration office where it was his job to make movies. Movies that taught government workers topics like what “you say and how you say it matters”. (“Feelings” – I was in that one for about a minute).
I would pass the halls in the Veterans Administration and see rooms like “Agent Orange Room” not knowing what that meant. The head of the VA at the time was in a wheel-chair as he lost his legs but my Dad had a picture of him playing tennis in a wheelchair so I never looked at him with pity – it was normal to assume that he could do so many things. Even as a young girl my Dad taught me the choices I had physically. He taught me how to lift items with my legs – that I could do it- never settle for the mindset that “I’m a girl so I can’t”.
As I grew older and dating he would hand me money before I left for a pay phone – as that was before cell phones. I could call anytime and he would get me; that I didn’t have to stay with anyone or any situation. I learned to respect myself and make my own choices.
Even in choosing my work and education he never believed one route was right. He wanted me to get true life experience as he believed that is where you really learn. Even now as a yoga teacher I take teacher training classes but I believe the true training comes from living it.
I know my Dad wasn’t a religious man but he was spiritual. I was brought up in a house that had a mix of Christian and Jewish backgrounds. Yet I remember having a Buddha and learning to make my own choice in what I believed in. Although I have had those try to tell me that my Dad wasn’t in heaven because he didn’t believe in Jesus, I chose not to believe that.
With this I put into practice the lessons from my Dad – the Golden Rule; choose to do what is right, don’t cause harm to others (even if it is truthful), non-steeling, and do unto others as you want done yourself – the message from so many spiritual practices.
Following this further about 12 years ago I was in a bad accident and just when I thought I was going to die I heard my Dad’s voice. I hardly speak of it, but even in the midst of this accident, everything seemed to slow down and I heard his voice tell me “You will be alright”.
On this Fathers Day I want to “Thank You Dad” as you aren’t here on earth, however I know you are always with me, reminding me of the choices I have. I know from that lesson that I will be alright.