Monday, June 16, 2008

The Prodigal Father

I wasn’t particularly fond of my father, nor was he of me. He was there since I was born up to the time I was growing up. He was physically present but was so elusive, near yet so distant. I could only recall one or two bonding moments with him, obviously not enough to cement our relationship.

I grew up becoming cold and aloof towards him. Something has gone terribly amiss between us. And I knew exactly why and how it happened.

My father was an incurable womanizer. For sure, he did not abandon us. But his bad habit of leaving us alone in the house for three straight days and reappearing later without a word of explanation had rendered my little world unsteady. I would wake up in the middle of the night wishing that he would be home soon. But when he wasn’t around, I felt strangely settled and secure. And yet, I envied my friends who had fathers that obviously cared for them a lot. Their world was a lot complete than mine.

Slowly, I became painfully aware that my resentment was turning to anger, then hatred, then betrayal. I sincerely doubted in my heart if he truly truly cared for me or his family.

When I became financially independent enabling me to support my college education, I basked in the newfound freedom. At last, I was free from his control. I was determined not to have anything to do with him. I left home and cut whatever ties I had with him. I communicated with my mother and siblings throughout the years I wasn’t home but never with him. The truth is, I was consumed with so much anger and pain inside. Strangely, I also felt so empty and hollow.

For years that I was away from home however, my father’s shadow kept following me. I viewed every man that showed interest in me as a potential heart-breaker or home wrecker. I had all my defenses solid and intact around me. I tended to question my authorities, whether in school or at work, and always doubted their credibility as leaders. I greatly envied my friends every time they would talk about their dad being their best buddy, and dismissed that as sheer nonsense.

After several years of unbroken silence, my father and I were eventually thrust into a situation that we both didn't like, but had no choice. He was into an extensive medical treatment for his heart ailment and he needed me to care for him and to assist him financially. I had the choice to either give or withhold my support. I chose the first, albeit grudgingly.

When my father lay comatose in his hospital bed after a near-fatal heart surgery, I saw the image of a different man – helpless, weak and broken. I suddenly felt the need to touch him. As I touched him, all the feelings within me were miraculously unearthed -first there was confusion, then anger, then bitterness, then pain. And then there was something else underneath, a solid core that never left me. It was a deep kind of love, compassion and kindness that had been there all along, only these were masked by the negative feelings that I carried with me through the years. Sometimes, we wander to look for answers only to find out that the answers are within us all along.

After his heart surgery, my father lived on for five more years. It was one of the most meaningful events in both of our lives, as we tried to gather the broken pieces, deal with our own hurts, confront our own weaknesses, and forgive one another, over and over again. It was not an easy process, but both of us tried and gave our best, and in the end, both of us triumphed. He died with peace in his heart, knowing that he has reconciled with the one person he has hurt the most.

My father was far from perfect. But looking back now, he managed to give me something precious, a unique gift that has sent my soul soaring – the discovery of who he really is and who I really am. He is divinely-connected to my destiny, a God-sent companion that taught me, not by words or examples, but by presenting himself as the instrument through which I could understand, what real healing and forgiveness is all about.

Belated Happy Father's Day!

6 comments:

edenee said...

this blog entry made me cry mel. my father was such a good man. your story helped me remember all the goodness in the world as my father saw it. i was so busy on father's day, i didnt even had time to think about the occasion or ponder a bit about fathers. thank you.

pinky said...

Im just thinking why all of sudden u mentioned ur father until i browse down when i realize na father's day pala. I bow my head coz ur very open with ur feelings towards ur dad. meaning...u have already forgotten everything and time heals...god bless and take care always. i txt my dad and greeted him out there in virginia pero walang txtbak so inisip ko na lang dahil may parkinson disease siya kaya hindi siya marunong gumamit ng keypad..he..he..he..

moonfacedgirl said...

darling mel ... it's funny, isn't it? the idea that we can believe, with our whole hearts, in goodness, in light, in a god we never see ... but we can't always make that leap of faith with those we should be closest to. your post is lovely and i am so happy that you and your father created a new relationship while there was still time. you deserve that kind of peace and happiness.

Anna said...

hi mel. dad had a stroke four years ago which robbed him of his speech. he can only grunt and point and motion with his hands now but i thank god that we had 30 plus "talking" years together, that he read me stories and sang me songs and that i knew him through his stories. your post made me appreciate dad more...

Gina said...

You must have felt very light after you've made peace with your father. What a heartwarming post about love and forgiveness, Mel.

I hopped over from Anna , btw. I actually was here a few times before and read all your entries.

It's interesting to read your thoughts on your experiences as a newcomer in canada, and to see that I've felt similarly in some ways when i first came here 6 years ago.

bloggerette said...

By reading your story, I could say you're lucky to have able to bridge the gap between you and your father. We all have stories to tell and learning something from them is what really matters. Good day!