I just want to acknowledge and say out loud that I am truly grateful to have such a wonderful, amazing, uplifting, positive, cheerful, supportive man in my life! This man is my father. The irony behind all of this is that for the better part of my life (and by that statement I mean close to 29) years, my dad and I didn’t have the best relationship. When thinking of how to describe it, I can’t even say roller coaster like - cuz there were a lot of downs, but not a lot of ups... Perhaps a better word is simply - rocky. It wasn’t his fault and it wasn’t mine, because I don’t think it is about right or wrong or blame... It just simply was (or wasn't for that matter).
We often didn’t see eye to eye... And the funny part about that is that it was often me not agreeing w/ the choices he made (even though I was the child & he was the father). I never really felt like he cared much because he never really showed emotion. I mean, he would say he loved me, but in my heart actions always speak louder then words. If he didn’t see me for weeks or even months, on my end it just never seemed like he really minded. I allowed his lack of visible emotion and his ability to consistently reach out to me get the best of me, I took it personally w/o fully understanding him, and I pushed him away even further. I know over the years that I must have said some extremely harsh, cruel and hurtful things to him. At one point I even disowned him as a father, and during that time period I thought there would be no going back, and well, there wasn’t... but there was going forward!
After almost an entire year of no communication, Dad finally reached out to me. He sent me the most sincere & kindest letter ever. From there we started a new journey together. At 28 years old my father came to Cali to visit me for a long weekend. It was in planning for this trip that I realized I had NO idea who this man really was anymore, or perhaps ever, but what a wonderful opportunity to learn. Through out the weekend one thing I noticed about him is how dorky his laugh was - which meant - he must have laughed a lot for me to notice! lol... but other qualities still had not stood out...
It wasn’t until much later when I was about 31 (probably 6-8 months ago) when the truth really started to shine. I can remember the day distinctly. Him and I talked on the phone for what seemed to be hours, catching up, while I tidied my house. Through the whole conversation I could feel my dad’s smile, his warmth, his heart, his love. Through his laughter, his voice, his expressed compassion, the words he used, the language he was speaking... What changed? Did Dad change? Or was he always this man? OR maybe, was he always this man, but life held him back from shining? Was he finally in the right place at the right time where his true heart could express itself? I think it was a combination of 1. D, all of the above, and 2. church. My father found God.... And at the time - that wasn’t my thing - but I was happy it was his, because to each their own and it seemed to work.
What I noticed most from this man was that despite some serious and very real hardships he was going through & telling me about, he still had gratitude, appreciation, love, compassion for other people in worse situations, and he had faith. He could tell me something sad but still smile. My father figured out what it meant to be truly happy in ANY situation... (and by this I do not mean he just settled for what was, but he plowed forward and continued to seek opportunity for growth but from a joyful mindset). I brought this up to him and he said “oh honey, I have you and your brother and sister, and Celia, and my step children... I love...and that is really all I need to be happy” Dad had love. And he realized... that love was truly the magic ticket to inner peace & happiness... Dad had love... I was in awe... Who was this man? Shortly after he put my step mom on the phone & her and I talked about this epiphany I just had about my father... She was telling me all about how this is what she loved the most about him. How, more then anything, he was so loving and kind and caring... and she told me a story about sitting in church one day when the pastor was sharing a service on this very topic and how she looked over and saw my father crying and she said, “Mark, he’s describing you - you already do this - you are this man” ...
Needless to say, conversations w/ my father haven’t been the same since. I look forward to each and every next call. I feel and know that our relationship has gotten stronger and deeper with every conversation. As time goes by, I know we learn of more and more we have in common. He always supports me and helps me to feel good about the choices and decisions I make and have made in my life thus far. He helps fill my cup - I can’t think of a time I don’t get off the phone with him and not feel inspired, excited, & simply proud of him. I can’t wait until the next time we get to see each other and have the opportunity to converse face to face and I will embrace every moment I get with him with so much gratitude when that day comes.
<3 you dadiO :P