Today marks 4 years since my Dad succumbed to kidney cancer. Each year during December and January, I seek out methods of escape – excessive socializing, which can include excessive alcohol consumption. I am not a regular drinker, but this time of year I want to forget the memory of death. Once the New Year arrives I tire of the toxicity and I enter this state of quasi-mania – irrational outbursts may happen, misdirected anger, random sobbing. All of which I am told is a form of PTSD. Unfortunately, cancer is so ubiquitous that some of you may relate. Watching a loved one become unrecognizably weak, hallucinating from the pain killers, and confined to a hospice bed, is a memory that will not soon escape the mind.
My dad was a phenomenal athlete. As a kid he was an all-star baseball & basketball player. He was a scratch golfer, going to the NCAA tournament in college, after taking 1st in the State of Minnesota. Growing up, he encouraged health & fitness, wanting his girls to be tom-boys and his son to be as stellar as he once was. He lived vicariously through our activities. As we left the house to continue our own lives he continued hiking, lifting weights, shooting hoops & golfing. So, to be unable to stand, his brain muddled with ridiculously strong pain killers, made me feel so sad for this man who had so much dignity & pride in care-taking. He wanted nothing more than to watch his family grow old; to see the day when he could bounce a grand-baby on his lap; to watch his business flourish to the benefit of his employees and his family. He was not ready to leave this world.
In addition to these physical traits, my Dad was extraordinarily spiritual. He had a very strong affinity for the teachings of Jesus and for the wisdom of the Native Americans. He participated in vision quests and avidly read texts about the Great Spirit, and the importance of nature and our loving interaction with all living beings. His devotion to spirituality undoubtedly influenced me – I have always had a yearning to help people. In his last days, one of the few things he said with clarity, was that we need to help people. He was the most generous, funny, loving person I’ve ever met – and I’m not just saying that because he was my Dad. He connected with people on a level that is rare to find – if you speak with anyone who knew my dad, they all believed he was their best friend.
Dad was also a singer/songwriter and loved poetry. He wrote love songs to my mom when they first started dating. He taught all of his children to sing, harmonize & play instruments. Music is such a huge part of my life & my soul and it is the one place where I can most closely connect with my dad’s spirit.
I am so grateful for my Dad – it’s not often that a child can think of their father as a best friend, mentor & parent. After he died, I felt the simultaneous emotions of utter Sadness & Gratitude. It’s hard to explain, but I would be driving in my car, a song would come on, and suddenly I’m sobbing & smiling – again, the mania 🙂
After this weekend’s discussions and exercises, I cannot put into words how joyful I am to have endeavored into this self-exploration and humble absorption of information. The discussions of Spaciousness are exactly what I need in my life. I desire greatly for the grace of observation during my moments of mania. To share this concept with my mom, sister & brother, so that they may find some peace during their own mania.
Again, thank you all for listening, for being present and for creating a place of open acceptance. It’s more than I could have ever wished for.