Sunday, June 21, 2015

Fatherless

Fatherless

Happy Father’s Day to all of you amazing men out there who have contributed to the birth of a child, or adopted a child into your heart and have been a good steward, a protector, a safe haven and an inspiration to your child. 

Some of the last memories I have of my Dad are as follows…

The very last day I saw my Dad, I had planned on just saying hello and then driving the 1.5 hours back home.  Instead, I decided to stay the night and then leave in the morning. Being a new mom with my little newborn baby, I hadn’t planned well, and so I ran out of diapers.  My son had a “blow-out” and in the interim of going to the store to buy more diapers, Dad helped me make a little make shift diaper using one of his old shirts and a plastic grocery bag.  He was pretty proud of himself and we laughed at our accomplishment and even took a picture.  The old t-shirt was cut to cover my son so that it looked like a shirt and matching diaper. There was a turkey on the front of the plastic bag that matched the colors in the shirt.  "Grandpa" had made sure his new grandson was taken care of, we came up with a fun solution, and a wonderful memory was made – not realizing it would be our last.

A couple months prior to Dad's death and the birth of my son,  I had been stressed about the workload my husband and I were carrying as we were running our own business and I had mentioned to my Dad how absolutely stressed I was about my ability to clean the basement apartment where we were living, by myself before the baby arrived.  Without being asked, Dad had recruited a cleaning crew.  Everyone came over and started cleaning.  Dad detailed all of the windows; he wiped everything down, vacuumed etc.  He brought me a big bouquet of balloons and a gigantic bunny that we still have to this day nearly 14 years later.  I felt SO loved.  I get a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes as I think about his service.  He always came through for me – always.  I miss him so very much.

The earlier memories I have were of our walks around the reservoir by where he lived, the 4-wheeler rides, his random cards given for no reason other than to say “I love you. – DAD”. 

Dad would become silent when the depression would hit.  He had always been able to pull through those dark episodes in the past… but not that last time.  In college I remember bringing him a rose and putting it on his doorstep… I didn’t understand what it was like to experience severe bi-polar depression, but this was something that Dad understood all too well.  "It" (the depression) was his "greatest fear". He had struggled with depression most of his adult life and it would eventually lead to his death.

As I think about him, I ache inside.  Nobody on earth was like him.  He reminded me so much of Robin Williams the comedian.  Dad could make anything anyone said become something that we would all laugh and laugh about.  I’ve said it before and I’d like to say it again, that this life doesn’t have all the bright colors and light that it use to have when Dad was in it.  Yes, we still get together as a family, yes, my siblings remind me so much of Dad, but…. Dad is gone, and nobody could ever take his place.  Still 14 years later there is a huge void in my heart and a pain so deep that I still cry from time to time when I think about him and so I cope by trying not to think about it too much.   Every Father’s Day is a tad gloomy for me.  I can be happy for my kids as they celebrate the time with their father, but part of my mind, body and spirit is still melancholy… I miss him so much.

To focus on the positive and the happy, let me tell you about the man my father is/was…

Even though my parents divorced when I was five years old, my father continued to be a very active part of my life.  When we were little, Dad would call us EVERY SINGLE DAY.  I remember one particular time; I looked at my younger sister (4 years younger than me), talking to Dad on the phone.  She still had the chubby little baby arms and dimples and she still wasn’t able to carry on a very two-sided conversation other than her babbling.  Mom eventually handed the phone to me.  I’m sure I wasn’t a very good conversationalist as I impatiently listened to Dad wishing I could go and play.  I would hand the phone to Mom and then skip off to play.

Several years later, I remember being old enough to go bowling, to go roller-skating, play softball, travel to Texas to visit my Dad’s parents and I remember many times going to Port Aransas, Corpus Christi and so many other places in TX.  I loved spending time with my Dad, as we would travel in the motorhome.  He was always so tired and so it took us longer to get places and he would often stop to rest – usually somewhere outside on the grass under the shade of a tree while us kids (three of us then) would play nearby.  Dad loved the water and so did I.  During the summer months we were at the community swimming pool almost daily.  Dad would laugh, as he would throw us up into the air so we could land in the water.  We frequently had picnics together and would go fishing together as well.  Dad seemed to always have a tackle box and a fishing pole in his car wherever he went.

During High School Dad would come from SLC where he lived, to simply teach me a little bit about the sport I was in…. In college I would frequently get a visit and we would go fishing (primarily to talk) or go on walks up the canyon. 

I could go on and on and on…

Father’s.  Love your children.  I ALWAYS felt loved, adored, and like my siblings and I were Dad's greatest accomplishment.  He loved us so much and would literally go without at times so that we could have what we needed.  He believed in us.  He loved us unconditionally; he made us laugh and helped us to feel safe despite how others may have worried for us whenever he would come to visit.  I have NEVER heard him say a single word that was negative about my mother.  I could tell by how he looked at her that he still loved her, but he understood her decision. 

Mom has told me many times that she would never have divorced our Dad if she had understood his depression.  He had crazy highs and crazy lows. Bi-polar depression.  There had been moments so scary that Mom eventually decided to divorce him out of fear for us kids.

When Dad died and took others with him, my Mother cried and cried.  She wished that it could have been her that went with him.  She said that she knew that she had “enough love to forgive”.

I tear up thinking about her words…

Two people who loved each other very much who were torn apart due to mental illness… and a lack of understanding as to how to deal with it.

Now in our day, professionals are beginning to understand the gut/brain connection.  My Dr. in Mexico told me over and over “we heal the gut, we heal the brain”. 

When I was unaware of what was causing my health issues (lack of ability to absorb nutrients) it affected me mentally.  Even when I was back from Mexico (see previous posts) and healing, it still took a lot of time for my brain to heal.  A stranger had looked at me while she was thinking something to herself.  It had scared me and I had asked her to “back away…far away” and told her to “stay there”.   After I had time to reflect on the situation, embarrassment flooded over me.  I apologized over and over.  I explained to the store attendant helping me about how I had just returned from Mexico, how I hadn’t been able to absorb nutrients, and had got to the point that I wasn’t even able to speak English, how the surgery fixed the issue and how my brain was still healing.  The woman said, “I can completely understand… I was anorexic in High School… I definitely understand what lack of nutrients can do to the brain”. 

We do not know what causes various health issues, but we do know there is a big correlation between gut health and brain health.   Better absorption of nutrients, a fuller range of macro and micro nutrients, essential amino acids, healthy good bacteria levels, digestive enzymes, correct levels of hydrochloric acid, water content, fiber etc.  The list goes on and on…. the better the gut health, the better the brain health.

Could Dad have benefited from real foods, whole herbs and essential oils?  I believe so.

In memory of my Dad, I want to say to any of you who may be suffering… 

NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!!  Your answers may be just around the corner.  Diet changes are sometimes tougher to change/give-up as it is for people to change a religion.

I pray that when you pray, you will pray that your eyes will be opened, your heart and mind will recognize truth and that it will have a “familiar ring”. 

Truth DOES have a familiar “ring”. 

May the Father of this universe guide you to the answers that you seek.  May you feel His love, His protection, and His guidance.

Many of us may be “FATHERLESS” right now for various reasons.  When you need to be held, I know you can always turn to your Father in Heaven to fill any void that you may feel.  There are many unhealthy alternatives to mask your pain, but there are many things that can support you in a natural, effective and much safer way. 

Happy Father’s Day.  Even in all your imperfection and weakness... you are still able to make the life of a child absolutely amazing.  I do not care about wealth or earthly possessions, but simply knowing that I am loved by my earthly father as well as my Father in Heaven.  

When you feel "Fatherless"... remember you do have a Father in Heaven who atones for everything you may lack.  Trust in Him. Turn to Him. Let Him surround you with His love and embrace Him... everything bad, ugly and hurtful and the feeling of being lost will melt away...eventually.





With much love,

Steffi

Note:  The next day, after I posted this article, I noticed a post that a friend had made that was regarding him being "fatherless".  What he said was powerful.  With permission, I am sharing what he wrote...

My father was not present in my life as I was growing up, as a teenager I struggled with father issues, only those who grew up fatherless can understand father issues, the others guys probably have no idea what that means. Having father issues is like having a boil that just wont go away, you try all you can to get rid of it but it remains in place. Growing up without a fathers presence is perhaps the worst thing that can happen to anyone. Now, many of us have learned to move on, we learned the hard way, the painful way and our vow should be to always be there for our kids, to offer our support throughout their lives. And to also step-in in the lives of other kids who need a father figure. Sons can only be mentored by fathers or father figures. I appreciate all the women who try their best to mentor their sons into responsible men but majority of them only succeed in turning their sons into sissies. Get a man who can mentor your son, get a father figure because no matter how much you try you will never raise a man because you ain't one. A boy needs the affirmation of a man same applies to a daughter. Daughters are more influenced by their fathers. In other words, society thrives where men thrive, nations are stable when its men are stable. With that I Thank all those who have become father figures to me. Have a wonderful FATHERS DAY." - George Kinyanjui (Pastor George)

Amen to the above.  Thank you, Pastor George.  Your words caused me to reflect on my own life. I'm so grateful for the father's of my friends, my teachers who were like Dad's to me, and the Bishops and counselors of our church family who stepped into the role of a father when I needed one.  I appreciated all of their love, service, council and example.  


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