guerrilla goodness: do for dad…

June 15, 2012

My dad felt really far from me as a little girl, maybe because he actually was or maybe because when you are little everything feels big- like work travel and soul distance. I had a hard time shaking that feeling as it spilled over onto my heart over the years. I knew he loved me, but I don’t remember him knowing what I liked on my sandwich or my boy problems, or feeling a sense of relief from his care.

But every time we he was home or we were together, there was pure delight in his eyes for all of me. My teenage self could not quite reconcile the two, so I picked up brick by brick to build around my heart, I also grabbed some judgement to keep with me while I hid behind it. There was only black and white for me, no grays of life allowed…no understanding of how a difficult start in this world can shift and change you or how  hardships can make it hard to know how to connect with each other….how your cards are dealt and you play the best way you know how.

So my dad held tight to love and delight and brokenness while I held pain and anger.

It wasn’t until my own fall that I could see my dad and his love in a new way. It created a crack in my fortress. I was 19, completely in love with Jorge, and pregnant. Sleeping with your boyfriend (and irresponsibly), not to mention any sex before marriage was a HUGE no-no in my conservative growing up world, with much shame and guilt…and secrets. He may have never even known any of it ever happened, but found a medical discharge paper from the miscarriage left in the car a week later.

He was worried, he didn’t know what the medical jargon meant, but he knew it wasn’t good. I was shocked by his response.

“Oh honey, you are just two kids in deep, deep love. It’s okay, you tell Jorge I wanna shake his hand and tell him I am sorry this all happened to you both.”  …and he hugged me.

Not a hint of judgement…or even disappointment…just pure, very unconditional love. I didn’t even know what to say. I held every flaw of his so close and now he was blowing mine away with the wind, leaving only love.

The redemption was profound. …and still it took time, but it had created a small space for love and time to heal me and to really see him. He called, I didn’t always return, he listened, he called again, taking one brick down at a time…and I realized his love for me had really never changed, it was always that pure, that kind…but the way we found each other did, our brokenness lead us to the same path. He never gave up.

I don’t really know if there is anyone else on the planet that loves me quite like my dad does, no one cheers and stands so boldly and loudly behind me…I am so grateful for his persistence and sheer joy for me. …and for all  I have learned from his love and life.

So here is the mission:

Write a love letter to your dad…tell the whole story, whether it was rocky or smooth, beautiful and old, whether he is dead or alive, thank him for what he taught you both from his goodness and from his broken places…or tell him what you wish it could have been, it all counts.

If you think he needs or would love to hear it, hide the letter in his pocket or jacket, or the glove compartment or on top of the credenza…or send it to your mom for her to hide it for you…

OR if you are not (or maybe never will be) ready to for that, hide the note in a newspaper or leave it on a park bench, coffee house or the hardware store…some dad (or son or daughter) will find it and know…and sit with you in that place for just a moment.

Thank you dads for loving us and caring, we honor you this weekend.

Feel free to share stories of your dad in the comments.

9 Responses to “guerrilla goodness: do for dad…”

  1. Cindy Tyra Says:

    This Father’s Day means so much to me. My dad had a blood clot go to his heart while he was on vacation this past week. Hearing my mom’s voicemail Tuesday morning telling me what happened devastated my world. The Lord was with my father. The first hospital they went to was closed (For sale). They found an emergency facility that had only been open two weeks. Then it was an ambulance ride across half the state to a hospital that just happened to have two of the best heart surgeons in the state on call. They were able to remove the blood clot and after a couple of days in the hospital and a long drive, my dad is back home. This Father’s day is going to be about hugging and loving and just staring at my dad, knowing I almost lost him. It’s going to be hugging my mother for her bravery over the week. My dad and mom have always been here for me. I’m one of the lucky ones in that regards. Don’t ever to them for granted and love them with all your heart!

    • Jen Bailey Says:

      @ Cindy. My heart goes out to you. I lost my father a few years ago to a long debilitating series of health problems & I can relate all too well to the kind of phone call you got from your mom. Adding my healing thoughts to you & your family & wishing your dad a gentle recovery.

      I love the idea of writing a letter to my father, but there’s a lot of trepidation. I grew up in a very secretive & dysfunctional household, with many addictions, secrets and brokenness. My dad felt so distant and lost to me when I was a kid. He didn’t know how to take care of his pain except by trying to escape it. But I loved him just the same. I’m not sure I’ll write the letter, but I’ll definitely sit with this Patience. You have given me food for thought as always.

  2. Thanks Patience. I always enjoy your posts. They never go unread from my inbox. Your writing voice is so consistent with your mission of kindness. It comes through in every word. You reminded me that I wanted to post just such a letter to my Father today. Love doesn’t always have to be complicated, but this particular relationship certainly is in my own life.If you are so inclined, you may take a peek!

  3. inthecaul Says:

    An out of nowhere morning cry, so good for my soul & I so needed to read this..

  4. CaraW Says:

    Hello! I love your story. I lost my Dad too soon to emphysema (don’t smoke!) so this weekend I am feeling nostalgic. I embody so many of my Dad’s qualities like our love of reading and cooking but also a mean stubborn streak. Luckily I feel his spirit is with me, enjoying my journey towards a happier, healthier life on my own terms.

  5. Patience, what a beautiful post, as always. What a special story and what a true testament to his ‘true’ love. To know that love. For many years, I felt similar feelings about my dad. It was sadly too close to the time we lost him that we were growing closer and so many bricks were falling down. I wish I’d written this letter or told my dad how much I loved him, appreciated him and respected the wonderful man and father he’d become. Thanks for helping me think about him in such a bittersweet way. ❤ maybe for those of us that have lost our dads, we could post here and share our stories , our love and our memories if we feel comfortable.

  6. Pache, this seems like a great Huff post kind of piece.

  7. Reading and writing brought tears to my eyes.

  8. Says:

    Crying here as well. You gave me very much to think about. Thank you for sharing your gifts. You write beautifully. Thank you.

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