As you know I recently returned from beautiful Puerto Rico and to continue with my post from earlier, on a more personal and less fitness perspective.
When I was growing up I lived with my mother mainly, here in Michigan but at young age began to travel to Florida to visit my dad. I remember vividly everything about the neighborhood, the canal in the back yard, and the gas station at the corner and the palm trees along the side of the house that the lizards and frogs hid in.
This was one of the best times in my life; the relationship I had with my dad was beginning to grow and I remember going to work with him often, meeting some interesting people. I loved it!
As I grew older I came back to Michigan and the relationship with my dad began to wither, kind of like everything here as winter approaches. Year after year passed and the willingness to work on much of a relationship was becoming less and less a priority. This continued and close to a decade passed, we didn’t have much of a father son relationship only saying hello here and there occasionally stopping over for birthdays or holidays.
The moment I stepped off the jet in Puerto Rico the memories began to come back of times in Florida with my dad and this was just the beginning of the story.
Day one, the smells, the warm breeze of salt water and noise of the waves crashing into the beach, all I could remember was the time with my dad. I was back in my happy place, tomorrow I get to meet Jens dad, wow..
Story after story of this man I didn’t know, the vision in my mind began to create the perception of this man being some kind of super hero, kind of like the dad I remembered in Florida that I lost.
Nervously we arrive and it happens, sitting in the living room 4 feet from this man, he begins to ask questions. He is a few days away from turning 100 years old he tells me how happy he was to meet me and tells me something any father of daughters would sob at the thought of. “You take care of my daughter, and my heart is always with you”.
Who is this man?
How has selfishness not taken over in his life like it has with people a fraction of his age? Asking question after question as well as he could considering Spanish was the language he was comfortable speaking. He wanted to know me, he was curious about this man with his daughter. As we continued in our conversation I began to see more and more of my dad, the dad I used to have before we allowed life to take over. My emotions were bouncing back and forth between sadness and longing to see a father to anger for the years we missed out on and that we let destroy our relationship.
I was a mess inside; the mixture of excitement for the trip combined with desire to call my dad was a very ambivalent feeling. The great company during the trip made this one of the best trips I have taken. There was no shortage of laughing and relaxation.
The day I returned to Michigan, I grabbed my phone and called my dad, only to be rushed off the phone because he was busy.
It broke my heart.
I needed him to know how I felt; I wanted him to know I missed the dad I had in Florida. So I started a letter and like most writers, I type, and type, and delete and type… only to hold the backspace button and delete it over and over trying to get the emotion out on a page.
I never called him back, I never finished the letter, and I did what I knew. I cried to Jen and held it in waiting for it to pass. A couple days went by as the pain began to sink back where it belonged. Yesterday as I ate lunch with Jen I got a phone call, it was my dad, he can wait, and not being rude to my lunch date I sent it to voicemail. I did listen to the message and what I heard hit me with years of emotion “thinking of you bud, I love you and want to chat about your trip”
Hearing that was almost word for word what I wanted to hear and we are setting up scheduled time to meet up and catch up. I’m 36 years old and feel like I’m meeting the dad I have wanted for half of my life.
“Forgiveness is not always easy. At times, it feels more painful than the wound we suffered, to forgive the one that inflicted it. And yet, there is no peace without forgiveness”. – Marianne Williamson