Friday, April 15, 2011

Saying Good-Bye to My Dad, Part 2

As a child, the girl used to wonder things like, "Who will teach me how to drive a car when I am older? Who will walk me down the aisle when I get married?" Fortunately, there were people who loved the girl and were there to help her in those moments, but at the time she wondered these things she didn't know that. And so every night as she fell asleep she slipped her hand up in the air and asked God to hold it.

The girl would visit her father every now and then and tell him about her life, but it's hard to have a conversation with someone who can't talk back. As she got older she began to dread these visits. "I just don't know what to say," she told herself, but the truth was that she was embarrassed of her father. "If I just pretend it isn't there - if I just pretend he isn't there - then maybe it won't hurt as much," she told herself. And she lived like this for many years until she had children of her own.

Now having children is a funny thing because it forces you to think about your own parents in a new light. The foolish things they did you now see as wise. The way they stifled your freedom you now recognise as protection. The late nights nursing a sick child enlighten you to the sacrifices they made for you. And the mistakes they made are more easily forgiven.

One day the girl and one of her uncles took her dad out to breakfast (this was just before the girl moved to Africa). Because the dad had been in a motorbike accident, you remember, he had great difficulty feeding himself. He drank his coffee through a straw. He ate what he could with his hands rather than using a fork and knife, got more food on the floor than in his mouth, and made such a mess that several people in the restaurant began to stare. And as they stared the girl suddenly realised, "I'm not embarrassed anymore. I don't care what they think. This is my last breakfast before I move, and I won't see my dad again for a long time."

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