Monday, February 7, 2011

Peace with my dad

My dad was an army man and a strict disciplinarian. Growing up under him wasn’t easy. And once I was grown up, I couldn’t agree with Dad about a lot of things. Not daring to confront him, I would gripe and gripe behind his back.

Towards the end of the year 2000, I was at a camp for women. At a session, one of the resource persons spoke about how we tend to have unresolved anger against our parents, especially our fathers. She gave us an assignment: “Now everyone go back to your room and write a letter to your father.”

I spent a long time reflecting about my dad and my relationship with him. And with a lot of tears I wrote the following letter:

‘Dear Dad,
I’m so sorry that I have been carrying grudges against you in my heart for words you said to me in anger and human weakness. Yes, you often lost control of your temper, like I do with my own children. How mean and unkind of me to remember all those and still seethe over them! Forgive me, Dad. Forgive me, Lord Jesus.

I’m now thankful to you and to God that you gave me birth, that you and Mum were alive to bring me up, that you did so to the best of your ability and knowledge. I thank you for bringing me up to godliness, to ethical living.

I thank you for loving me, though you were never verbally open about it. I thank you for that lovely red Kashmiri coat you bought me when I was seven. It had pictures of owls embroidered along the button lines. Whenever I wore it I could feel your love embracing me.

But somehow, along the way, I grew hard and ungrateful. I even convinced myself that you don’t really love me. I blew up your faults to large proportions and undermined your virtues. I’m so sorry, Dad, and I love you.’

I’m so glad I made my peace with my dad before we re-located to far away Bangalore in 2004. We visited him before leaving. This is how he was:

When we visited him next in the summer of 2006, he had become like this:

Then he passed away just after midnight between 6th and 7th of February, 2007.


Calliopia said...

Oh mesjay, did you actually send this letter? It brought tears to my eyes. Parent-child relationships can be so tough, can't they? And though I had none with mine, I can imagine how many people might have issues with their dads because they aren't as openly caring and loving as mothers. I'm so glad you made your peace with him.

Gauri Gharpure said...

We talk a lot and most of my thinking has been shaped by the talks we have had while he dropped me to highschool, to late night parties, garba and so on. We talk a lot and yet his consistent complaint is that I don't sit and talk with him. This irritates me a lot at times, the sad child-like look of neglect he wears when he asks me to sit down beside him and talk. "Just talk", he says. My own life is progressing at my own pace and somehow I do not find time for them, that's unfair, that makes me feel guilty, but I cannot do enough some times.. But I think I'll sit down and talk some day, soon.

I digress. God is kind that he gives us so many chances to make amends, make peace. Lucky you.

illusionaire said...

Such a sad and touching post. It fills my heart with warmth to know that you have made peace with him before it was too late.

Exactly 4 years ago. I can understand what you must be going through. Hope you are alright. God bless, pi mesjay.

Jerusha said...

Mes how beautiful and touching! I'm eating lunch now and I think I must look pretty funny with food in my eyes and tears in my eyes. I have many of those dad issues if I were to write a letter I don't think it would be an apology letter :P

Jerusha said...

* food in my mouth

Anonymous said...

Seeing the two pictures brought a lump in my throat. It reminded me of how I felt one Xmas holiday, when I realised that my folks weren't as young and energetic as I had remembered. It was difficult to accept.
I think we all need to write such letters to remind ourselves that the cause of such unresolved anger against our parents can be pretty small compared to what they sacrificed for us.

VaiVa said...

Touching and thought provoking. Raised in a military background must have been tough. your dad reminds me of mine whom my elders in the family often complained of him when they narrated their childhood days even though he was never in military.

I have been serving in the military for more than ten years now, but when I think about my dad and his 'do this, do that' orders at the dining table, I am still just a recruit in discipline stuff.

kevin said...

This was a really fantastic post that I really do appreciate. This is something that is really amazing and interesting to me to say the least. small bamboo

mesjay said...

@Calliopia, in fact i never sent the letter because Dad didn't even know i had issues with him. But i later did try to verbally express my apprciation of what he did for us.

@Gauri, your dad seems to be very different from mine - open about his affection to you and taking time to talk. Do keep the warm relationship going, you won't have regrets later.

@Illusionaire, thanks for your genuine sympathy. Yes, i'm really glad i shed my grudges before it was too late. I'm at peace now though i do miss my dad.

@Jerusha, you too are emotional like me! The dad issues get resolved once we can think with a mature mind and understand where the dads are coming from. The things they say/do that hurt are often done with good intentions plus human weaknesses.

@Blackestred, it kind of hurts to realise for the first time that your parents are growing old, doesn't it? It reminds us that the days we have to love them are niubered.

@Vaiva, you too? May be we'll always be like new recruits to our disciplinarian fathers.

@Kevin, thanks for the visit and comment.