This is the first father’s day since my father passed away, and so I have been filled with a mix of emotions when thinking about my father today. It’s so difficult to reflect back on a relationship that was at times tumultuous and painful but also poignant and profound.
As a child I think I was scared of my father. He was usually the stern disciplinarian who would get mad at me when I would do silly things.
Yet my father was also someone that I looked up to immensely. He challenged me to think for myself and to learn about the world around me. He would play devil’s advocate and push me to debate and reason. He would share with me the depth of his learning and knowledge about history, politics, literature, and anything else.
There are so many things I learned from him. As I’ve written before, I learned so much about love from watching his example as my mother suffered from cancer. The care and affection he displayed for her taught me everything I needed to know about his character and about the meaning of charity
I also hopefully learned from the flaws in his character. In part because of his upbringing my father equated money with love and affection. So giving or withholding gifts was his way of expressing his feelings.And when he was unhappy with my choices (be they joining the church or otherwise), financial threats regarding support and inheritance were common. These were painful for me because it made me feel that his love was contingent rather than unconditional. I hope to never do that to my children.
And yet, my father always came back to the fact that he was my father. He never followed through on his threats to disown me or stop speaking to me. He knew that he was always my father and he loved me ultimately no matter what.
I miss my father greatly. I am glad that he was my father. I believe will all of my heart that one day I will see him again. I believe that he has learned about Jesus Christ in the spirit world from the only person who could ever reach him–my mother. And all of his imperfection is being refined away like dross. What will be left will be the kind-hearted man who could fill a room up with his laughter and his infectious energy for life. And he will always be my dad.