(I am cross-posting this from Blogher.com where I entered it last week.)
As everyone knows who has read my entries here and on my own blog, I am in the process of moving –and discovering what a spiritual learning curve it is to buy a home in the town in which I had grown up. I am shuttling between two places right now – my almost-boxed up apartment and my house 200 miles away. The official move is Dec 15-16. I am deep into “sorting mode”. I opened up a box that had been in my garage since two years after my Mom had died, 11 years ago. I pulled out a birthday card. It was covered with pink roses and ribbon and said “Happy Birthday Beloved Daughter.” I braced myself for tears when I would see my Mom’s signature.
But it wasn’t there.
This was a card from my Dad, a man with whom I had had only glimpses of a good relationship during his life. And here was this remnant of one of those tiny but precious moments. I remembered the year. My father had, as usual, forgotten my birthday, although it was two days after his own. I called him the next day and told him that he had forgotten, but (in a rare act of assertiveness with him) I told him that he could still send a card.
He said that he was sure Mom had left some unused cards around, and he would try to find them. She always had cards on ready-reserve. “No guarantees, though,” he added with characteristic gruffness.
I developed an instant backbone and said. “Look, I am your only kid. Go to the drugstore. Pick out a card just for me. One that says the truth. It is not a lot to ask. A card – chosen with me in mind – that’s all. I deserve that much, don’t I?”
A few days later, it arrived. It had two pages of Hallmark-written prose. It spoke of seeing the future in my face when I was born, and added …”Now I know that we are living in that future, and that it is very different than I imagined it would be. It hasn’t all been beautiful. Some of it has been scary, and painful, and sad.” Then it went on to say, in the words of the Hallmark writer, but from the heart of my often brutal father, it said, regardless of what happened, that he would love me. He signed it “Forever, Your Pop”.
I sat in the garage and just wept at the reminder of the best side of him – the part that ‘got it’ about me and him and life in general. The part of him that he lost when he lost his way as a father and a man.
And I remembered calling him and thanking him right away – but it was after his moment had passed, and his heart had closed up again. Still, I had seen it open, and no one could take that from me – not even him. We had both remembered the core of a better time, and that was never to be changed.
I think that we all need to be alert to such moments – such fragile miniature epiphanies -- places where the light manages to squeeze in – little blips on life’s horizons that are worth their weight in gold and diamonds.
And so why do I find this loving card now? Why does it surface during moving and relocating? Maybe it is a reminder that not all my hometown paternal memories are bad.
But I think it is other than that.
I think my Dad is somewhere in the Great Ether having another moment. Sending me a card about futures that change, lives that don’t end where we thought they would, but lives where love, at ground level, goes on. Love goes on past life, past lost ways, past broken hearts, mistakes, errors and salvaged dreams. And love that rushes, unbidden and full of promise, into lives that are undergoing reinvention.
Thanks, Pop. And here is “Forever backatcha”.