Our behaviors and experiences are often fueled by what happened in the past. He passed away a three years ago today and before he left this world, he gave me a wonderful gift. For me, my Dad was intimidating and not approachable. I had often felt pressured by his beliefs and held back from showing him who I was.
The last week of his life all of that changed because of a story he told me and I am forever grateful. He started with “I need to talk to you about your upbringing“. My dad shared a moment in his life as a young boy that would define his beliefs and how he would live his life. To me, he was a maverick, laser focused and fearless.
It happened during World War II as a very young boy in London England, while both he and his brother Derek were leaving the movie theater. They were caught in an air raid with no place to hide. My father was merely 5 years old when the two boys ran home and crouched behind their house in the dark with bombs dropping all around them. He heard the screams, saw the destruction and wondered if he would survive this night. He had already survived dysentery and now he was smack in the middle of the bombings. This defining moment would shape his thoughts and how he would raise his future children. He never wanted us to feel afraid and he wanted us to be prepared in life.
It was October of 2012 when my Dad and I began to connect again, just three months before he found out he had lung cancer. He expressed how proud and grateful he was that I donated a kidney on behalf of my brother.
One of my favorite things about these conversations over the next ten months, my dad would ask “Wendy, how are you today and how is life going”? I miss that, it came from a place that was genuine, he really wanted to know. I typically gave him my standard answer, “I am good” but truthfully I really loved the way he asked that question.
My dad taught me about perseverance and living, he was never afraid to start over and follow his calling. In fact he had just moved to San Diego at the age of 69 after leaving everything behind. In just five short years my Dad found success in creating a life with close friends, dancing, building a contracting business and becoming actively involved in a local church. He was very proud to be President of the Smooth Dancers Club in San Diego and the contributions he made.
I have felt my Father’s presence at different times over the past year. One example; during a long evening drive on icy roads driving from NY to Rochester, I felt exhausted and unprepared for the focus that lie ahead. While I was driving through the mountains that evening, I could feel my Dad’s presence which relaxed me and gave me strength as I drove on.
How often do we block out good memories and focus on what went wrong? I remember my father when I was a very young girl and the connection we had. That must have been what I felt during those last few month… that same connection.
Read More: Growing up in London during the war: My Dad, a life of survival, acceptance and trust.