Saying Goodbye to My Father, Part 2 – Relationship Healing

My father and I had several memorable conversations over the last few years as I tried to prepare myself for his passing.  My parents divorced when I was nine.  My mother, two brothers and me moved 2000 miles away so we could be near my mother’s family.  My contact with my father was very limited after that day.  My husband and I moved back to the Pacific Northwest many years ago and started to have more regular contact with him.  Even as an adult, I still longed for his acceptance and love for me.  I knew I had that as I watched him leave this earth last week.

It was a painful and surreal experience to watch my father pass away before my very eyes.  My mother passed away a year ago.  I had a strong desire to be there when she passed, but it wasn’t meant to be.  I had no such expectations or hopes with my father.  Interestingly enough, the emotional healing I received as a result of my mother’s passing was what I needed to help me prepare for my father’s passing.

It was a long road to this place of peace between us.  I’ve done a lot of emotional and spiritual healing work over the last ten years and am a strong advocate for Christian 12-step programs, like Celebrate Recovery, that helped me to face my brokenness and to forgive.  My relationship with Christ gave me the strength and courage to journey into the painful places that I needed to deal with in order to free myself from the unmet expectations I still carried with me.  In doing so, I learned to love my father as he was—with all of his imperfections.

Except for reading my mother’s eulogy and memorial program from a year ago, my father had not seen any of my writing or knew of my desire to write.  I visited him in February shortly after my first manuscript was accepted by Cladach Publishing in the compilation Journeys to Mother Love.  I feared that he wouldn’t live long enough to see it in print, so I wanted him to know about this story.  Even though it was difficult for him to read or to hold his concentration for very long, he asked to read it.  I was shocked when he sat at the computer with its enlarged print and read the whole story in one sitting.  “Very, very good writing,” he said.  His words were a precious gift.

Last picture with my father, April 2012.

Then a few months later when I needed help with more information for the final edits, he filled in some of the gaps in my memory.  Those edits were accepted in the final proof of the manuscript hours before rushing to be by his side in the hospital at 2 AM.  My story, “Walking My Mother Home,” about the healing I received as I prepared for my mother’s passing, was the topic of our final conversation together.  He agreed to tell my mother “hello” when he got to heaven.  And he agreed to tell her I was ok and that I love her.  I was also able to thank him for his help with the manuscript.

My conversations with my father after that were brief in nature and geared toward his health care.  Our final private time together was in my brother’s home the following day.  He was resting in his new recliner.  I sat at the desk next to him writing his eulogy on my laptop.  Hours later he passed away.

I never did finish writing his eulogy.  In the days that followed his passing, my time was torn between family obligations and other preparations.  I gathered my thoughts though and jotted down some notes.  I trusted that the Holy Spirit would give me the right words to say.

The hours leading up to his memorial, I was stressed with last minute logistics.  I was nervous too.  I’ve spoken at church functions and shared my recovery testimony several times, but except for my husband and my younger brother, my family had never heard me speak.  This was a whole new arena to step out of my comfort zone.

Strangely enough though, as I stood in front of family to share the final reflections that I felt God led me to say about my father and his legacy, I was in total peace.  The healing I received with my mother’s passing the year before made me whole enough to face this new challenge.  God had miraculously connected the timing and significance of these two events.

I know that my true identity is ultimately in Christ.  But for me and the orphaned spirit I often felt throughout my life, I can now see my additional identity as a woman who was uniquely loved by two very different parents, each with their own brokenness and burdens.  They both left me with a legacy of healing.  And for that I am eternally grateful.

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  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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