A Conversation With Dad – The Shock That Rocked My World

When you show up with love in your heart, what is returned to you is pure love.
While I knew this piece of universal wisdom to be true, I never experienced it so profoundly as I did the other day. I flew to Miami to see my aging ailing Father. I have a good, although not very close, relationship with Dad.
My childhood was tumultuous. My parents went through a long drawn out battle of a divorce that left a lot of emotional debris. My father, who was a renowned neuro-psychiatrist went on to make some horrendous decisions in his personal life. His misguided thinking and its outcomes were splattered across the media headlines on more than one occasion. Other bad choices liquidated the wealth he had built up over his lengthy career.
I defined my Dad by these life-altering choices. Taking the lessons I learned with my as I watch his life experience crash and burn, I made different decisions – took different paths – in my own life. What I didn’t know, until the other day, that the greatest gift I would ever get would be from my Dad.
This week my Dad taught me the following:
You do not know what you do not know
The natural human spirit creates life and faces the end of life with grace and dignity.
As long as there is breath in our lungs there are gifts in the lessons that can be learned – we continue to grow.
When you show up with love in your heart, what is returned to you is pure love.
In earlier visits with my Dad I showed up as if I was fulfilling a family obligation. I had my expectations about what the short time we spent together would be like and got exactly what I expected. Year after year. All I did was reaffirm what I thought to be true about my Dad and my relationship with him; Dad was a selfish SOB and he never knew or cared much for me.
This time I knew it might be the last time I would see him while he was still lucid. He’s bedridden and cannot see or hear very well. I prepared his tiny meals and fed him as I would any infant. Sitting at his bedside I decided that I would give him the gift of closure, peace of mind, so that he could let go comfortably. I decided to arrive in a state of love instead of expectation.
I wasn’t prepared for what I experienced. Here was a man who I thought was devoid of emotional tenderness, any interest in who I am as his daughter, and full of himself. Who I experienced was a man stripped of all ego, all parts of him that he used to cope with his own inner pain, freely expressing his truth. It was the most profound awakening I have ever witnessed. The awakening wasn’t within him. This new perspective came from within me. I woke up to who my Dad really is at his deepest core and it rocked my world.
Dad expressed the lessons he learned, his love for me, my siblings, his wife whom he was once estranged and his love of life. While his Alzheimer’s made it difficult for him to fully communicate what he wanted to say he spoke of his appreciation for life and all that it had to offer.
When his memory failed he would fill in the gaps with a little joke, a rhyme or pieces of an old song that surfaced out of nowhere. I was captivated and engaged as an observer and witness to the joy and delight that is my father. My time with him flew by and I longed for more. I kissed him goodbye when I left.
The flight home was tearful as I felt a wave of stuck toxic energy within me release itself. The resulting hole in my inner being was filled with love and appreciation for the resiliency, enormous power and inner wisdom that is the human spirit. I am grateful that I had learned enough of my own lessons to get out of my own way so that I could experience what I never thought know and love and be loved for who I am for and by my Dad.
I was completely wrong about who I thought my Dad was. His actions were always well intended yet his choices of execution were woefully misguided through his own Inner Critic, his own pain. Dad is a man filled with love for his children and his purpose in life, to heal others in pain. He never gave up his quest to become the man his heart longed to express. I was blessed to be a witness as he revealed his truth, all that he had learned, and all that he still had to share.
I invite you to show up with love in your heart the next time you visit with what you assume are your dysfunctional family relationships. Give yourself the gift of the profound power, energy and lessons that can be learned through the purest expression of the human heart.