Yesterday I was driving to work, and I was thinking about how wild the weather had been and how grateful I was that I could find beauty and joy in simple things. I was enjoying God’s creation when I decided to turn on the Radio to the local DC Classic Rock station. That’s when a song played, I think especially for me. It has been 4 months since my father passed, and yet I find myself still clinging to the hole in my heart from losing the “Man I Most Respected” in this world.
I was immediately made weeping, like I am now. I had never heard this song before. A lifetime ago, when my mom and I were unkind and against each other’s hearts, this song would have not made me happy or miss home. But in college, thanks to Dad being an intercessor and having an open heart, Mom and I came to find our common ground and bonded very close. In the times when one of us is hurting without Dad, it has been a blessing to know I can talk to my mother. In so many ways, the issues I had with being ‘alone’ and ‘without children’ have been exacerbated by my father’s passing. Not because people say them as often now, as they did before. But knowing my father will never see my children, he’ll never hold his granddaughter in his hands, or see his grandson raise up to become a man seeking to be a better man like my grandfather has seen, you don’t imagine how strong that pain is.
When those thoughts of being ‘alone’ become blinding and burdensome, Mom and I have been able to share our pains and discuss how we are getting through it. And constantly Mom reminds me to keep my mind free of worries, to keep my mind focused on the simple accomplishable things of today, not what may come of tomorrow. For both of us now, the future is beyond belief. Imaging tomorrow without talking politics, religion, or my life with Dad is searing hot coals to my eyes; but imagining what 6 months from now or a year from now is like tearing myself across my chest, breast to breast. How can I describe the void of losing the very foundation you built your life on? How can I draw or write for your minds the gap of love that my father has left in so many people’s hearts?
But with this song by Lynyrd Skynyrd, I find myself hearing someone express the same pains I am going through. With my father gone from my life, all I can do now until I find that one destined for me, is to rely on my mother for support. And even in her own pain, a gulf compared to the pit of my own, she continues to bear my burden of frustration on top of her own. I may not say it or express it well, but I am grateful that she and I can and now talk almost everyday. My mom has always wanted my best and sought to make sure that I knew it wouldn’t take much for her to love her son. No one can take her place in my eyes, and for me, Mom has always represented the Rock I can run to when I need to escape DC, when I need to flee the reality. She lives in a small town, in an area of corn and fields, and she enjoys a simple life. For me, I didn’t want that and she knows that; yet when Dad passed away, she did not stop me from returning to DC and politics. Even when I felt that I should remain home, she was the first to tell me that God needs me out here. For all the pain in her heart, she still sought my satisfaction and joy for me, when I was blind with pain to see it myself.
For those who know me, Loyalty and Honesty have been the Foundation of my existence for so long. In all things, I seek to love my friends, tell the truth, and live a life where I can help people. Even when I get frustrated by the idiocy of others and violence of some towards their fellow man, I find myself unable to escape these ideals that bind my life, like they bound my father’s life. But it was Mom who was always telling me to listen to my heart, listen to God’s voice in nature, and to keep my eyes open in the harshest of storms. You never know when God will show a sign, she would say; if you close your heart and mind to possibility, you’ll miss out on the chances you were supposed to take. Mom has always been the one encouraging my ambition, and while my father shared my enthusiasm for politics, it is the ideas and beliefs that I share with my mother that kept me and still keep me going, even in my darkest hour.
When dad was in Israel, or travelling for work, when he had to work late or go back into the office, it was Mom who I spent time with. Over time, I spent the most time of my childhood with her. How could I wind up not sounding like her, acting like her and seeing the world through her eyes. I do not, like some men and women, wish that my mother died in place of my father. No I am grateful my Mom is still here to listen to me, and hear my heart. I could not imagine a world without her. Without my father, I wonder if I can continue my journey, but without my mother, I don’t know if I could even survive in this world.
I miss terribly my father, but in the void of him, I have realized much more how I love my Mother than I did before. It could be grief or despair opening my heart, perhaps maturity, but in some sense, it’s just selfishness of a child. The need to be coddled, to know there is a safe place. I hate to admit, but I hate my hometown still to this day in many ways. I suffered bullying there, it’s a small town with not much happening or going on. But there is one person there that makes that place go from a hell without my father to a place of rest. I wish it didn’t take misery and great loss for me to see that, but that’s why Mom I come home and want you to remain in Saint Joseph. Because when I come home to you, as I will not too long from now (May 13th), you make me realize just how wonderful my life has been, is still, and will continue to be. You make me realize just how grateful to God I am. You make me realize that unlike many young men, I had a dedicated and loving father; and unlike many young men, I have a mother who despite adversity, is a foundation on which has shaped me into the ambitious, eager man I am today. Not many people can say they have one blessed parent, but thanks to your love Mom, I can honestly say that I had two blessed parents.
And like my father, I will always be a simple kind of man. I say what I feel, even if it takes some time, because all I know how to be is honest like you taught me. To be loyal to those who friend and love you like you are to those you hold close. To be vigilant in spite of pain and agony, and to cling to this God-given life even when all of you wants to abandon it. When people see me, they say often they see my father, but they hear my mother. I think that’s completely true. My father painted for me the pathway to righteous and how to act, but in my mother comes my voice, my ideals. My mother is and will always be the foundation for my beliefs, and in some way, I am sorry it took this long to express that gratitude in this way. But I am glad that this song helped me see it, because while it was on my mind already, the thoughts never synced up like they should have.
I thought about waiting until Mother’s Day to share this, but I think this should not be my thought once a year. This thought should be with me everyday, and if I fail to express it when we talk, I am sorry. I know you are going through a rough journey this weekend, and this will probably make you cry. But I want you to know that I want you to cry; I know you gave a memorial for Dad, I know you feel alone and are struggling in your heart daily without the man you loved absolutely. I know you are a tough and proud woman, dear Mother, and with so many expectations around you, you may feel uncomfortable being you at times, because you don’t want to burden people with your loss and how it affects you.
But honestly Mother, and I say this publicly for the record, damn them. Damn anyone who would make you feel GUILTY for losing Dad. You should and have the very right to weep bitterly about it, not that you would in front of people. You sought so much for me to be a satisfied and simple man. Mom, because you knew you were not, you wanted so much for me to not have the path you have walked or the pain you have suffered. And for helping me avoid those dangers, I am grateful. Thank you for making me into the Man I am today, for making sure I wouldn’t suffer the strains of this world so much in my heart as some do. And because I haven’t said it, I love you Mom.