Gifts: Parents & Saints
Gifts from a parent
I lost my father in July 2016. It was a dreadful day; the pain still haunts me.
In a fit of cruel rage, someone recently said to me: “Your father is not eternal. Why do you keep bringing him up all the time? He isn’t here to solve/advise/fix ___. He was no saint.”
No, he was no saint. He had his flaws. Some were because he was human, some brought about by circumstance. I did not know about many of them until he passed away. So, it is someone else’s word against mine. But I know that there was more to him than what I knew of him.
What I saw of him around me, is what I remember of him. While he was around, he was feared. Not because he seemed strict, or seemed unreasonable, or because of his 35-year career in the police force. But because he could get folks to see reason why something was right, or wrong. He was feared because it was like talking to a lie-detector. He had a gift. He could look into your soul in an instant. He always demanded one thing: truthfulness. No games. No false assurances. No excuses. No pretenses. If you apologized, you had to mean it. He was forgiving to a fault, giving people second, third and fourth chances to mend their ways, to reform, even hardened criminals! He was an optimist.
But breaking his trust came with a price – he lost hope in you. And that was the worst. I remember his hurt a few days before he passed, when he had given up hope on someone he loved deeply… he took it hard, as a personal failing.
Can you imagine someone who stands behind you when the going gets tough – but eventually losing their hope in you, and for you? And the burden that leaves on that persons' soul?
Yes. People are not around forever. No one is a saint. But their actions when they are living leave a legacy that stays back long after they have left. Isn’t that what everyone wants? Not money or things, but leaving behind a good legacy that warms your heart? If their children can fondly celebrate that legacy of character, I think it makes them saintly enough.
If you’ve been honored with the role of being a father, or a father figure, or parent in any capacity, it will not be the breakfasts you make or the movie tickets, or the gifts, or the ‘yes, darling’ that you say to your child. It will be about the lessons in kindness and humanity. It will be about the times you say ‘no’ and being truthful about why you said ‘no’. It won’t be about what your spouse sees in you, but what the world knows of you.
Can you treat others with compassion and kindness, and can you teach your child that?
Are you fair and reasonable, and can you teach your child that?
Can you choose right from wrong, and can you teach your child that?
Can you make good choices, and can you teach your child that?
Are you accountable for your actions, and can you teach your child to be accountable to themselves and others under their care?
Are you considerate, and can you teach your child that?
Are you respectful and can you teach your child that?
This or any other day, don’t tell me about the wonderful gift exchanges you’ve had with your child.
The best gifts are yet to come. They will be one you leave behind.