“Dad, your guiding hand on my shoulder will remain with me forever.”
This Sunday is Father’s Day. The bond between a father and his children is a unique and important one. So what does this day mean? This day—which honors and celebrates all fathers—is a great opportunity to make dads of all kinds, everywhere, feel special. We can express our appreciation and love by offering the fathers and father figures in our lives our complete attention. This means putting away the electronic devices and being together, physically or in spirit, with your whole being.
In my own life, I had an up-and-down relationship with my dad. I felt close to him at times, but we didn’t have that “let me tell you everything, I feel protected by you” father-daughter bond. Often, we have this image of what a close relationship should look like, and we judge our experience on what is supposed to be “the norm.” Here I’m reminded of the old television show Father Knows Best. Robert Young was a great dad, but life is not like a TV show, is it? The media places enormous expectations on us—and yesteryear’s TV dads showed us only half the story. Father doesn’t always know best—and life is about making the best out of the situation we find ourselves in and living the most authentic, loving life we can. My dad was an alcoholic, and it took me decades to be okay with not wanting him to be the TV dad and realize that this was the life we had together, so how could I make the best of it?
As an adult, I lived many miles away from my family, so I didn’t see my dad often, but I loved him and I knew he loved me. I got the call three years ago that my dad had been rushed to the hospital. He had been diagnosed with ALS, and he was dying. I took a flight out right away and spent the last month of his life at his bedside in the hospital. We didn’t speak about any of the past (it just wasn’t my dad’s style), but we did share a remarkable experience. I had done all of the inner work necessary to forgive all of the things that had happened and release old desires. We were both able to just be in each other’s presence, knowing that, in this very moment, “all is well.”
My dad passed away while I was in the middle of writing my book The Practice, a chapter of which is all about letting go. Seeing my father in such a weakened state was a difficult experience for me, but through this experience, my dad taught me a great final lesson: how to let go. I had no choice but to say goodbye to this man I had known and loved all my life—despite all of our difficulties. I deeply felt my feelings of loss, and I am so very grateful for him, and I remember with a happy heart the good times. So, I always remember him with a smile, especially on Father’s Day.
This Sunday, pause to remember your father, or father figure, male or female with an open, loving heart. If you’re having a strained, difficult time with this person, breathe in love and breathe out the pain—and keep doing it. You may just start to feel a release, some freedom, an acceptance that life is unfolding in perfect order. If you have a fabulous relationship with your dad or other father figure, tell that person, with all of your being, how much they mean to you and be present in mind, body, and spirit.
Happy Father’s Day with all of my love and blessings.