Reiki Master Diane Lynn Gelinas, M.S.W., C.H.
|104 Douglas Drive, Candia, NH 03034|
|DLGelinas@aol.com or Debtwise@aol.com|
Truth Veiled by Perspective....
A Letter of Forgiveness
Although you passed away almost 14 years ago, I have never sat down and put my thoughts about our relationship on paper. Now that a "Letter of Forgiveness" is part of the requirements for my Reiki Level 3 Certification, I am choosing you as the subject.
Actually, I prefer to call this a "Letter of Understanding" because now that I am almost 63, it has taken me this long to develop some sort of understanding of our relationship. I was going to say "or lack of it," but I understand that whatever the quality, you were my father and, as such, we had - and probably still have - a relationship.
I have to say, however, that what I am about to say here is somewhat conjecture since you and I never really talked much about how you felt and you never opened up enough to let me know your feelings. You were a man of your era, and feelings were just not something men shared, particularly with their children, at that time.
I feel I have some inkling about why that is and what your life was like before I was born, during our time together and after I left home, but I am, of course extrapolating that from the standpoint of my life and what I have gone through.
I know you were the last of seven children born to strict, Central European immigrant parents. I know from my own experience with her, that your mother was overbearing and ruled your family - and when she could, her family - with an iron fist.
I know you married a girl who was, as the 1940s song says, "just like the girl that married dear old day." I believe that - in addition to the fact that you owned your own grocery store and your lack of career choices because of your limited education - is what kept you away from home so much. I also know from my own experiences, that sense of entitlement that you were doing your job in keeping all of us fed, clothed and housed, that allowed you, even when you were home, to disappear into sleep and interact with us only occasionally.
I also know that being who I believe you were, I must have been a disappointment to you. You would have preferred a more manly son - one who was more sports oriented, who was not afraid of the water, who was not a "mamma's boy" as I was.
The early years of my post-World War II life while I was still living at home, encompassed the Cold War, Korea and Vietnam. The things I was interested in involved intellectual discussions and dissections of the events of my time, an area where you may have felt inadequate and, therefore, uninterested in.
You often mistook intellectual disagreements for disrespect, and that created anger - really on both sides. Intellectual discussions must have seemed like a waste of time for you who was so immersed in the day-to-day grind of earning enough to keep your family afloat in often difficult times. I have since come to agree with you on that and appreciate the wisdom of that view - not so much in terms of your immersion as in your rejection of the intellectualization of worldly matters.
By the time you began to reach out to me, in your own way - just prior to your 50th anniversary when you asked me for my opinion on the short declaration of love for mom that you read at the party and just before your quadruple bypass operation - my anger and hurt blocked the insight into why your were doing those things.
You died peacefully in your favorite chair following your favorite meal in the comfort of the condo you owned with mom in Florida. It was sudden and unexpected, and left little time for good-byes to anyone.
I can tell you your death tore me up, perhaps because of all the unresolved issues between us. They say a man doesn't really become a man until his father tells him he is, and those were words I never heard from you I think because it never occurred to you to say them to me.
I have had to find my own path to manhood and it has led me onto this spiritual journey. If you were, in your old age, the same person who you were when I was a young man, I am pretty sure you would not have approved of some of the choices I have made, but, in many ways - both positive and negative - you were the reason for them.
You grounded me in the faith of our fathers, sitting with me in temple, and being proud of my performance at my Bar Mitzvah. You tried your hardest to give me a conventional sense of my manhood and while I was not willing or capable of fulfilling your expectations, the pressure forced me to find my own way.
You worked hard to make me the only member of our family who went to college and even took over payments on the loans that made that possible, despite the fact that I chose not to live up to what my high school teachers thought was my potential and go to a free city college.
And the sense of respect for your parents that you instilled in me is something I have gone on to instill in my children.
During the week I sat Shiva in Florida for you, many of your neighbors and friends stopped by to pay their respects and I learned about you from them. They saw you as a kind, gentle man, who would give the shirt off your back to virtually anyone.
Based on my experiences with you, I took that with a grain of salt, but seeing myself and those around me change and grow, I now believe that was who you were at the end.
Now I know that truth can be veiled by perceptions and I think our perceptions of each other hid the truth of our real feelings for each other. I wanted more from you than you could give at the time and you wanted more from me, and neither of us took the opportunity to see through those desires in order to find out about the person standing in front of us.
It is something I am addressing in my life now because of what I have been exposed to and the time in which I live. You never had the advantages of those things or thought in those terms.
It was not you I have been angry toward all these years, but my perception of you. I fully admit now, that I was wrong and ask for your understanding.
In gratitude and understanding.
In February 2008, Shir graduated and become a Reiki Master Teacher. He has honored us with agreeing to share this letter and his journey. Let's take the month of March - in acknowledgment of the spring that is approaching - as a time to reach out in forgiveness and understanding of a loved one. Kudos Shir!
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