My father passed away four years ago today. Alzheimer’s robbed him of the incisive thought process that made him a great diagnostician for the hardest patients of all: babies and children who could not describe how they felt.
Alzheimer’s is a particularly vicious disease.
I can’t say that I always had an appreciation for my father. He was a complex person in some respects, but simple in others. He was difficult to understand in some ways but in others, very clear.
No wonder I was ambivalent. Confused, even.
We had our difficulties.
As a result, I did a lot of therapy over the years. My conclusion, at the end of it all, was that parents do the best they can with what they have.
I still believe that.
It’s hard to hold resentments when we get hold of that simple fact. And resentments keep us from living our best lives.
Some 15 years ago I discovered — to my surprise– that I was his favorite. My mother confided that in me as she laid in a hospital bed in the last year of her life.
It was a gift, but one that was hard to wrap my head around, given our difficult relationship. As the years passed, I considered my father, his role in my life and what it all meant.
In the end, I concluded that my father’s light shone very bright, indeed, and in fact, still shines in me, and now, in my nephew (his only grandson).
I always believed my father would have made one hell of a medical researcher — he read immunology for fun — and this fall, his grandson will begin a PhD program in medical research.
When my nephew told me of his plans, I couldn’t help but smile.
“You know,” I said, “I always believed your Grandpa would have been happier as a medical researcher. He’d be very proud of you.”
He IS proud of him.
Dad’s been gone four years, and still, his bright light remains, shining still, in my life and through his grandson. The Great Mandala and all that. *
* The Great Mandala expresses the entire universe in which human beings and all living things maintain harmony and interdependence with each other