“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received, only what you have given.”
--- St. Francis of Assisi
Today, I can say what I could not say at the time I was growing up. I was blessed to come from a family that was focused on loving me and taking care of their family, friends and even strangers in need. As a teenager I started to emotionally distance myself from my father. I did not like the idea that they could not provide the financial support for the social events and lifestyle I wanted to pursue.
I was born with a different agenda, fueled with ambitions and desires they could never imagine for themselves. I was determined to experience life to the fullest, to travel and to be financially successful. At a very young age I decided I would get a part time job to start achieving my goals. By the age of eighteen I was earning more money than my father. I was not aware of the major circumstances that influenced much of the man my father had become. When he was still a young boy his mother and the baby died as she was giving birth to her eighth child. Some of the children stayed on the farm with my grandfather, and others were sent to be raised by several different family members. Survival was the priority, not education. My Dad never went to high school because every able body was needed to contribute to the income for the family. I suppose I always thought he was not very ambitious. However the one thing that made a lasting impression on me was how he was always responsive to the needs of his siblings and extended family. He and my mother generously shared their limited resources. We often had family over for Sunday dinner. Then of course those were the days when families visited each other on the weekends and stayed in touch and aware of family needs.
The last five years of my dad’s life he was dealing with kidney failure from cancer. This was a very stressful time for me as I struggled to balance working and seeing to his various needs. My mother didn’t drive. She also depended on me when any medical decision had to be made. Unfortunately there never seemed to be the time or privacy for my Dad and me to talk. I do think he would have probably felt very awkward with such a conversation.
I was blessed with a remarkable connection and healing experience with him years after he passed. I had a Soul reading with a spiritual intuitive. I had never met her prior to my appointment, and she lived outside of the city. When the reading was almost finished, she said “Your father is here, and he wants to let you know how much he loves you.” I felt like I melted in his arms. I was totally surprised that he had this message for me. Then months later I was attending a group meeting with the same intuitive and again he had a message for me.
This week two events centered around St. Francis of Assisi. I found myself thinking of my Dad. He reached out to poor family members, fed them and even housed them. He enjoyed the simple things in life like perch fishing and having a fish fry for the family every Friday. Weeks before he died, he planted tomato plants in his garden, He told my son he probably would not live to see the tomatoes, but other people would get to enjoy them. When he and his brother-in-law had a family grocery store, they allowed families in need to put the charge on the books and pay when they were able. Most of that money was never collected. My dad’s birthday on October 3 is the date St. Francis of Assisi died. My dad passed on October 4, the feast day of St. Francis. I do think this is more than happenstance.
This week you may want to reflect on one quality of your parents or a family member and send them a note to let them know that you appreciate that quality in them. Many of the blocks in personal and spiritual growth often occur when we have not healed the relationship we had with our parents. Once this is done it is much easier to develop an adult to adult relationship.