Sunday, June 17, 2012

I Finally Cried "Uncle!"

It’s been a year since I returned to Owensboro, at which time I moved in with my father who had the house and farm on the market. The move-in was “temporary.” A year later, I remain here as my dad decides whether he is ready to sell the place or not. He pushes through the Parkinson’s disease and the challenging demands it places on his aging body. Dad knows his limits, and he takes rest breaks, but the work he does, he loves. The homestead has been his life; thus, to sell it means his life in some ways ends. As long as he handles the tasks physically, I anticipate he will remain, though he admits its getting to be too much. I expect he'll see the place through before selling in the spring; of course, he said that last year. Time will tell.

Living with Dad challenges me but offers me the opportunity to do some healing within our father-daughter relationship. Ours is not the warm and fuzzy father-daughter relationship seen on “The Brady Bunch.” The teen years involved a lot of yelling and crying. College years provided space to be who I wanted to be, bully-free. Young adult years smoothed out and the relationship seemed better; however, the older I've gotten, the more independent-minded I am, marching to the beat of my own drum. Doing so didn't set well with my dad though he kept his tongue for the most part. During mom’s illness, our estranged relationship intensified as if under a microscope in the midst of the stress. I was treated like I was sixteen again, and amazingly, I responded as if I was sixteen again. What the heck? I felt little support from dad during and after mom's illness, but then, he was a grieving widower himself, so that I accepted.

I made choices after mom’s passing that widened the chasm between us, mainly because dad expected me to act accordingly to his expectations. I wasn’t who he wanted me to be, and honestly, I was floundering as I made poor choices in effort to soothe the pain of my grief and loss. Upon realization of my situation, created completely by my own choices, I recognized the need to cry “Uncle” to the Universe as my dire circumstances came to bear. I was miserable in Indiana. I felt too far away from dad and everything in my life seemed to be falling apart. I felt the spiritual guidance to go home to Owensboro, the very place I eagerly left after high school. Doing so meant I would eat a great deal of crow when talking to my dad about my situation. I needed his support in these dire straits so I could sort things out, but I also felt a burning need to be closer to him. I’m sure Dad saw things from the former perspective, especially since he once stated his belief that the reason I came home to Kentucky in 2009 was only because I lost my job in Colorado! His accusation cut me to the quick and even deeper in my heart since mom was dying. Again, I had to let that and all of his narrow-minded beliefs of who I am go. He doesn’t know me, and at the time of this transition, hell, I didn’t know who I was either!

Through the last year, I’ve woke up from what felt like a bad dream. I had several “Come to Jesus” meetings with myself about my choices, coming clean that I acted with my head and emotion, not with my heart or out of God's guidance. I’ve let go of the story about my woeful sacrifice of leaving my life in Colorado, my friends, all that I knew to come home to see to my mom and dad. I’ve let go of my story about how undervalued I and my professional expertise is in this area. I’ve let go of my story of financial woes and hard luck, and how no one in this area appreciates me. I’ve let go of my story of true love turning into a nightmare of shattered love caused by a heartless and damaged man. And I’m still working on shedding a few more stories: the story of being the unappreciated and disrespected daughter; the story of hopelessness of ever finding my “Prince Charming” in this area who gets me, is like-minded, appreciates me, values me; the story of how I'm a misfit, out of place where “normal” is "abnormal" compared to life I knew in Colorado. I realized I made myself a "martyr" when I tell these stories; I decided not to live as a victim as many do when they whine and tell their sob stories of hurt and how they were wronged.

I am grateful to my father and his support during this time to grow, to heal, and to expand upon who I am and “what's next.” I’m grateful to spend time in the place I’ve called home for more than forty years and its sanctuary to remember and heal my youth and young adult experiences in this seemingly foreign place after a twenty-six year absence. I value every moment I can have at the only address I’ve ever lived here in Owensboro before its gone from my life forever.

I recently considered moving into my own place, a reality not too far off into the future, but I struggled with the decision. After struggling for a week or more around it, I remembered during a meditation that decisions from my heart are easy to make. If I'm struggling to make this decision, and its not feeling right, chances are it’s not the right choice right now. In making decisions, I'm learning to follow my heart while many tend to follow their head and popular opinion. With a dose of practicality offered by my head, I follow my heart first because more often than not, decisions made based on emotion and my head lead me down the path of heartache and struggle, as clearly evident from my choices since my mom passed.

I'm happy where I am right now, and my heart knows it is temporary. I offer dad company, help around this big house and sometimes in the yard when he lets me. He offers me company, support as I recover from three years of financial setbacks, and the opportunity to figure out how I can participate and contribute in this community. I'm available to him at a moment's notice which offers me greater comfort and peace in fulfilling my commitment to see him through his transitional years. And I'm given the opportunity to heal, even strengthen our relationship; to create a new kind of relationship between us that allows me my voice and heart as my father's forty-eight year old daughter.

Life is good with few bumps along the way but that's Life. My heart is peaceful and God blesses me with opportunities and guidance to move forward in my journey in such a way that honors both myself, and my father in his final phase of life.

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