Sunday, June 16, 2013

Memory of Fathers

This is an old photo taken of my father when he was a police officer in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He's the tall dark lanky one, second in front of the tree on the left, looking toward the dignitaries. He must have been on parade. He was a very handsome man. I think this photo was taken in the mid to late 40s, before I was born.

The memory of my father was of his physical height and his connection with the land, where he loved to hunt and fish. I would often go with him on fishing trips, and go traipsing through the woods checking rabbit snares for rabbits, in spite of me lagging behind or getting my fishing hook caught in the arse end of my pants. The rabbit snaring trips quickly came to an abrupt end, when I was confronted with the reality of seeing a bunny caught in a snare. My father promptly hit it on top of the head and killed it. I never went again.

Our young impressions of our fathers are different from when we become mature adults. Some impressions  remain the same, others change and some are bitter sweet. Constants for me were the ever increasing awareness I had of my father's drinking and how this was affecting our family. When I was thirteen he'd left the family. It wasn't until I'd matured, that I realized how much of an affect it would have, upon being reunited with him, after being separated for twenty six years.

As a young adult I came to fear that I would become the person my father was, who had a serious alcohol problem. Later on  in adult life, I realized I had many shared characteristics in common with my father. Yes, I admitted and accepted I was alcoholic, and got myself into several 12 Step programs. Along with this, I had a very similar personality as my father.
He was very sensitive, emotional, creative, a hard worker, with a great sense of humour, he loved people, and had a faith in the God of his understanding. Most importantly, I know he loved me, my mother and my brother. He was wounded in his young life, coming from a poor rural coal mining town in New Brunswick.
Like so many of us, and did the best he could, with what he had to give. I have learned the important lesson that you can't give away what you don't have yourself.

 I would be lying to say that Father's Day doesn't bring up feelings of loss, sadness, and hurt. But that is OK, as long as I acknowledge it, and can talk openly without dwelling on the past, then I can move beyond this, think about the good memories I have of my father, and how I can be grateful and proud, that I am my father's daughter.

I have never regretted tracking my father down almost twenty years ago. It helped me to reclaim who I am, because I did it for myself, though I am still a work in progress. The repercussions for my family was a healing one.

Today I heard the most beautiful song by Jeff MacDonald, from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. It was a Gaelic rendition of The Lord's Prayer. It touched me in a very deep way. I don't understand Gaelic but music transcends the necessity to know what is being said, and it can touch the heart regardless. I tried to find it online but could not, but I did find another song he sings about family, which I have posted. Family is about home, whether it be your family of origin, or family of choice. Home really is where the heart is.

Jeff MacDonald's interpretation of The Lord's Prayer conveyed a very evident deep spirituality and expressed to me my feelings about my Father, The Creator, my Higher Power and was filled with gratitude and love for my own father and was acutely aware of how much I miss him.

 I have had many spiritual fathers and mothers throughout my life. A person does not have to be a biological father or mother, to fulfill this most important and difficult job in the world that can make all the difference to another, that has lost their way, or is in need of guidance. I am so very grateful to for all of those who have helped me along the path, especially my family biological or not.

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