Yesterday was the 10th anniversary of my father’s death.
It was a complex day.
He was a complex man.
We had a complex relationship…
He was, categorically, a man who did many evil things.
I’ve grown over the years and admittedly no longer can say (without wincing at the subjectiveness of it) that he himself was evil. I can certainly say that the things he did were easily identifiable as wrong in every sense of the word.
He was, to some, a well-respected man. To others, he was as loathsome and as fearful as any villain or monster you can imagine.
When I think of him, especially at this time of year, I know he had his own demons which tortured him and for that, I am saddened.
But we have the opportunity to make choices and it is by those choices we show ourselves for who and what we truly are.
I was asked why I would feel any sadness on the anniversary of his death; the perspective that people express when they ask this is that I should glad to be free of him, free from him.
It took me a while to figure that one out but the simple truth of it is this: there is never going to be an opportunity for him to redeem himself (in my eyes) by his actions or his words. There are no more possible moments of realization and remorse.
What weighs so heavily upon me as I write this is the realization that I have taken up a burden – to find a way to forgive him and to let all this…heaviness…anger…contempt…sadness…drain away.
I’ve still not found a way to do that. I want to a bigger man that that.
If you’ve never seen the movie “Smoke Signals”, I strongly recommend it. There’s a magnificent poem that is quoted in the film. You can find a clip here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB0RgMcB8zc
For those of you who are fathers, know the enormity of your actions, your words. For those of you who are sons, know the enormity of that responsibility, and if your father is able to uphold that, love him with all your heart. If he is not, love him with all your heart but be true to yourself as well.
If need be, protect yourself, but as long as you both live, keep your heart open to the possibility of love.