Too bad that I can’t.
Unfortunately, my Dad died about nine years ago. Yet today I have the strong desire to hear his voice. His warm tone of voice, silly sense of humor like mine, and to listen to him talk endlessly about food and what he was preparing for dinner that night.
(He was quite the gourmet chef)
When he was alive, I called him very rarely. I was much closer to my Mom who raised me, and also I got so tired of the endless talk about food. It seemed my Dads whole life revolved around eating a great meal. In addition, my troubles never seemed to impact him very much. Regardless of my situation or crisis, he would gloss over it and reply “but other than that things are good?”.
For most of life, I found this to be so unloving and disconnected. As if my problems were not of any great importance, but his amazing Prime Rib roast was. But still, I love my Dad very much. I suppose I always held-out hoping he would be more of what I expected at some point. That at some point in his life he would see what I needed and then accommodate my emotional needs. Yet even as his last days alive drew near, he lived them exactly the same with what seemed to be no regrets. For some time after, I wondered if with his last breaths he had regrets about not being closer to me.
I have traveled along way since my Fathers death, and become quite surprised at my changes in view. With clarity now exposing the truth about not only my Dad, but myself. My Dad was a Buddha. My Dad asking “other than that, things are good?”, is truly no different from Bhante Sujatha saying “what to do”. My Dad understood that dwelling on the problem, or discussing it at length was only an avenue toward further suffering. And my Dad was truly happy and at peace with his life. Loving every morsel of it, savoring it for all it was worth, and with almost no expectation of anything or anyone. He did not even burden me with expectation, but accepted whatever time or attention I offered, and was always so very grateful for that. And when we said goodbye to me on the phone, I could always feel the genuineness and depth of his unconditional love. I was his boy, and he was proud to watch and allow me to grow and become a man in my own way and time. He understood this was my life to experience, and knew clearly of the pains that accompanied becoming and being an adult in this World.
I see now that all of the disappointment and contempt that I held for my Dad was merely my own expectations of what I thought he should be. Yet the whole time, he was accepting and allowing me to be whomever I was. I can only now imagine how difficult this must have been for my Dad. But this was his wisdom, his gift and karma that he gave to me. No strings attached.
I am so grateful for my Dad and all that he taught me, though sadly I learned it so late. Not so late for me to be grateful or benefit from his love, but that I lacked the wisdom when he was alive to love him back as unconditionally. But each morning, in my loving kindness meditation, I send that love and gratitude to my Dad. Offering him all merit for his acts of love and vowing to cultivate those seeds in my life and actions toward my Family.
I suppose this is my phone call to Dad. I love you Dad and I miss you. Thank you for being my teacher.
And guess what I’m having for dinner tonight!