Gratitude – Day 49 (Forgiveness)

I suspect this will be a difficult blog entry to write. It will be hard for me to find the words to express what I have felt and experienced this weekend. At this point, I want to state that I do not make a point of studying dreams or trying to find the meaning of my dreams. I am hardly ever able to remember or recall my dreams.I had a dream this weekend in the morning hours. I was in a half waking state and briefly awoke from this dream. It had a powerful feeling which was both very stimulating and very calming. I am not even sure if it was Saturday morning, or Sunday morning, (I think it was Saturday morning). I gently came out of my half sleep state and reflected on the dream. I felt both sadness and joy.

Let me establish the context. My father was not a very good man. He was quite smart and had a mind for business and entrepreneurship. He was also a bit of a charmer and a manipulator. I think he loved the idea of family, but he did not respect or treat family very well. In many ways he was a little boy trapped in a man’s body with all of the insecurities of someone who never grew up emotionally. He was particularly sexist and treated women poorly; at least the women he was involved with. I was never close with him.He left home to play house with his best friend’s wife for awhile, then came home some month’s later when the novelty ran out, the money ran out, and the mistress ran out. I was about 13 or so at the time and refused to let him resume the authoritarian role towards me he once had. I basically stuck around for mom, she stuck around for me. Go figure. I am not writing this to air dirty laundry, this is merely the painting of a picture of the past events. I never really knew why dad was like he was, he was so self-centered that his world was pretty small. He nenver had time to invest in his own family.

Mom blossomed when she got out of the house and situation in 1983. The quite inner strength she possesses inspires me deeply. She has a well of strength deeper than I can imagine and her capacity to love and forgive that completely astonishes me, but mom is the subject for a blog entry another day. After mom and I moved to Halifax from the country, Dad moved to Truro. He became increasingly detached from family, nit because he wanted to, but because he felt he should be the nucleus and everyone should come to him. There were attempts to maintain a relationship by many of the family members, but there was no real closeness there. I wrote dad a letter in the early 90’s as I felt it was important to say what I needed to say and give him a chance to know how I felt. He took it poorly which is unfortunate.  For me that letter was my letting go. It was my last attempt to bridge a gap and try to have some meaningful interaction with my father.

He passed away a number of year’s ago, I am not even sure of the year or month. Not many people visited him in his final days and his passing was largely a non-event. Sad, I guess. I had mentioned to him year’s earlier that he will die as sad old lonely man. A man whose only light comes from the dying embers of the bridges he has burned around him. I would have liked it to be different, but it wasn’t.

Over the years, people have asked my how I feel about dad. My answer has always been the same, “I feel an overwhelming indifference.” Before and after his death, that is what I have felt. I do not hate and loathe him, nor do I possess a deep love for him. There are some of my siblings who carried a burden of hatred for Dad for many years. I saw how destructive that was and did not want that path for myself. I also saw blind love and loyalty, the kind of devotion that feels you must love, honor, and obey your father; even if he is engaged in despicable acts and reprehensible behavior. That certainly was not going to be my path. I walked the path of indifference. I tried to bridge the gap and form a more respectful relationship but it was not to be. I did not hate the man, nor did I love him.

Down through the years, I have occasionally reflected on a memory of dad. These reflections are generally a detached recollection of some past event. One thing of note is that I have shared with some family, that I have never shed a single tear for his passing. I really do not feel anything. There is that overwhelming indifference again.

The other morning, the dream in my have sleep state created a very powerful image and feeling. I was humbled by the enormity and intensity of it. To describe it would cheapen it, so I will only touch on salient highlights. In the dream I was on the waterfront of an abandoned industrial pier. No one around. Then I became aware of a container on my right which I instinctively knew to contain dad’s remains. A little bit farther to the right was the most amazing and comforting presence; it was nebulous and without form. It embodied such an intense feeling of Love that I cannot describe it. In that presence, I felt the embodiment of peace, love, understanding, acceptance, and forgiveness. You can call this the spirit of God, karma, the universe, enlightenment, or whatever you want to give it contextual relevance; I call it a gift. In that moment, I felt a deep forgiveness for dad. It is odd that I would feel that for I feel I harbored no residual hostility or resentment. That is what made this even more pure. There was not hostility to let go, I only had to let go of indifference. Forgiveness; we understand what the word means from a dictionary definition, but know my heart knows what it means. I then noticed that the presence of my brother Charlie was there. He was about 15 yards away, in front of me and slightly left. I felt he was there to bear witness to this moment and give it credence. No words were spoken. The feeling of warmth and forgiveness washed over me. I gently woke from my reverie and felt a lone tear escape to roll over my cheek as a punctuation mark to this dream. I absorbed the understanding of warmth and forgiveness and drifted back into a restful sleep.

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.  ~ Paul Boese

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