"I never knew my father" ( Bruce, from Finding Nemo)
It's a funny line from a movie which is painfully true for too many. It is true for me to a certain extent. I grew up without my father. The destruction of a divorce and two people who were too focused on their own pain rather than what would be best for the children split my family into pieces. One brother went to live with my father, one brother stayed with my mother, and I, a toddler, had no choice but to live the life decided for me. My mother told my father that she wanted him to stay out of my life and he did. Though he never lived more then fifteen minutes away, he had virtually no contact with me while I was growing up. My mother raised me to resent his absence, the absence she requested.
I am a seeker. I know myself and I know when I am not whole. Even as a young adult, I was compelled to seek my missing pieces. Beginning at age seventeen, I journeyed through different seasons of reconciling with my father, trying to build a relationship despite the lack of our shared history, despite being mostly strangers who shouldn't have been.
Relationships are challenging and broken ones even more so. The hurt and anger hung thick around me while I tried to do my part of being a daughter. My mother nurtured my pain. My father was oblivious to the struggle. Then marriage, moving away, returning, more trials.
In 1997, my father called me and told me he was retiring and moving to the beach. I was devastated. I felt like any progress we had made would slip away as now he would live four hours away. I couldn't have been more wrong. This began the best years of my life with my father.
Our trips to the beach were full of love and communication. I learned how to love my father so deeply. My favorite times were early morning when no one else was awake. He and I were both early risers. I would walk down the stairs and there he would be in his big recliner, drinking coffee, reading the paper. I would go get a cup of coffee and sit on the end of the couch near him, content to just be in his presence. It was just so lovely.
We had seven more years of the best times before pancreatic cancer stole him from me in 2004. It's been eleven years and I still miss him so much. I bring him with me to any decision, wondering what he would advice, what he would think about my choices.
I am not a fan of the beach. Given a choice, I will choose the mountains and the forest every time. But going to the beach takes me back to the arms of my father. Somehow, his spirit remains there and when I am there, I feel him more keenly.
Today, we leave for the beach for the first time in about five years. Those five years have changed all of us so much. Children growing up, getting jobs. They won't all be able to be there and the ones that will won't all be there at the same time. It will be different. Life changes. People die. Other people disappear from your life.
Daddy used to say that the beach is different every day because the wind blows differently, the tide is coming in and going out differently. Each day is familiar but different. That is what life feels like sometimes.
What's the choice today? Welcome the different and love the familiar. My goal this week is to relive old memories and make new memories. I want to connect with my spirit and have some conversations with my Daddy. I want to hear my grandchildren laugh and see them chase the waves. I want to take a walk on the beach with my love.
Ah, but before I can leave, I have to pack. Before I can pack, I need to have some coffee! I'll get off this computer now. I'll be writing and posting while I am gone. Morning time writing is the new practice. We'll see where this takes us!