My childhood was spent not having my father around much, because he was working hard to make ends meet. He had a large family back in the home town to support.
Most of my adolescent years were spent rebelling against his old ways of thinking and arguing always on the other side than him. My early working life as a journalist was spent in reveling in the admiration I got from him for being knowledgeable about the affairs of the country and world and also in having endless debates on the state of current affairs. He secretly felt proud of me for being the young man of the house. And I took that seriously!!
When I got married I spent my time with him disagreeing on how I ran my household and how I related with my husband. Then as I had children I opposed him when he pointed out how I could raise my children better than what I was doing.
When I returned to my parent’s house bag and baggage and two children, after the marriage no longer worked for me, I fought with him for not having ever standing up for me when I was being not treated well by others.
Today he is 76 and after two cerebral attacks has lost his ability to retain facts and figures. He reads the newspaper to just make himself believe that things are still the same as they were some years back. He asks endless questions and often repeats them. And almost always forgets the answers.
He gets on the nerves of my children by saying the things they do not want him to say to them. He wants to be close to all of us and make up for lost years when we were children.
When I go out into the world as myself I realize how all those years spent arguing and debating with him actually honed my clarity of thought. It helps me to be the woman I am and sing the song that I was meant to sing. It lets me step out of an old world which still thinks women are two-dimensional. And I catch myself being grateful to my father for being the man who always was a good sport for a good argument and debate and once it was over never held it against me.
I close my eyes and thank him for not being around when I really needed him, because that made me vulnerable to heart aches and pains and open to sorrow and love. That made me curious and pushed me to walk out of the ignorance of a comfort zone. And now I am strong enough to walk alone. I am in deep gratitude as I see a man who allowed his daughters to figure things out on their own. Even if it sometimes meant walking through fire!
Because today a culmination of all those years of experiences, having spent in confrontation with my father, is my biggest strength, my irrefutable trust and faith in my own abilities to walk the path no matter what.
And it all transforms to great compassion for this man, who I chose as my father, so that I could learn to be where I am today in my journey, this life time.