My dad wasn’t the most talkative or demonstrative person, or at least not with us kids as I discovered later.
Watching him joke and tell stories with friends, extended family members, business associates and even my friends often left me wondering who took my dad and replaced him with this man.
Discussions focused largely on ensuring our future included a university degree, a good paying job and early planning for retirement.
(I do recall, however, one barn burner of an argument over allowing women to become members of a club he belonged to.)
Until mom passed on my 25th birthday, the only hug I remember from my dad was more than a decade earlier when he left for a business trip to Iran.
Imagine the confusion of a child questioning why this trip warranted a hug while others didn’t.
Concerned by the distance my sisters and I felt between dad, mom made a point of telling us before she died how much he loved us, despite appearances, and to always remember that.
The message seemed more intellectual and because-he-is-supposed-to than fact.
There’s no doubt he was a good man, just our roles seemed set in stone and we continued on without much chance of changing.
Imagine then my angst in having to tell my dad I quit my well compensated job to go to nothing.
Everything he had clearly expected of us was going out the window.
When I found myself deeply drawn into the realm of energy I was even more nervous.
How exactly do you broach the subject of woo-woo energy with a quiet sciencey, engineer, pilot type?
Any queries into what I was up to were met with very high level, cursory answers in order to switch the topic quickly.
I was heading in this direction no matter what, and expressions of disappointment or lectures as to why not were not needed.
But despite best attempts to keep dad out of my energy world, he was invited in.
My Reiki Master, Maureen, liked to celebrate the end of her student’s Reiki Master mentorship training with a small graduation ceremony.
The other student and I were instructed to invite those who were special to us, and upon learning my list included only one person, I was “encouraged” to invite my dad and his wife as well.
There was no wiggling out of this one.
Best hope for a quick evening of few words, some tea and we’re done.
Not so fast.
Graduation evening arrived far too quickly.
Instead of looking forward to a fun evening like our classes, the pins and needles of nervousness were raging inside.
Dad was going to find out.
Upon their arrival, Maureen spoke in hushed voices to the guests – not students – and handed them slips of paper.
Secrets. Not knowing what is happening. More nervous by the minute. This evening can only get worse.
And it did.
After a few kind words from Maureen, I was invited to the middle of the room along with my three guests.
In turn they were asked to express their hopes and wishes for me, sometimes using their slips of paper for memory jogs.
Now I at least knew what the hushed words were about.
Being honest, as a nervous wreck doing a poor job of holding myself together, I don’t remember much of what was wished for me that evening.
Except for my dad whose turn was last.
To this day I can hear his last words, plain as that night when first said.
Hearing my dad speak was probably the longest he’d ever said anything to me. Especially something this personal.
Tears were streaming down cheeks by this time and the lump in my throat prevented any words from coming out.
A nodding acknowledgement was about the most I could handle.
Then he blows apart what little remaining pieces of stalwartness I had left when he says
I just want you to be happy.
I lost it.
The dam broke.
As did our old relationship from that moment forward.
We didn’t hug a lot more.
Or have grand conversations.
Or spend more time with each other.
But we didn’t need to.
Dad had my back whatever path I chose to head down.
As long as I was being true to myself.
And I didn’t need dad to show up in a certain way to know how he felt.
He didn’t need to do or say anything to be there for me.
He already was.
The end note to this story is too few years later the phone rang late one evening.
His son-in-law’s voice was on the other end.
While others made their way through shocked grief of dad’s death, I found myself embraced in a deepening sense of peace.
There was no unfinished business between us.
Our relationship had moved to an entirely different level of unspoken transcending time and space.
Whenever I remember those seven words dad spoke that night, I’m reminded that encouragement begins with me.
I am the one to allow others in, to take the chance of being vulnerable to say what I truly desire.
How else will others know?
Only then will I see what support has always been there, and who else is more than willing and able to be there for me too.
As I am there for them.
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chief nudging officer
Crazy for cats and potatoes, Lorraine's insatiable curiosity of Life leads her to question, explore and push beyond the box. A self-professed "left-brained creative big picture" type, she has an intuitive knack for seeing beyond and beneath first appearances while at the same time nerding out on the details. Most of all she sees and holds others in their highest until they can see it for themselves.