Everything must have a beginning…and that beginning must be linked to something that went before. –Mary Shelley
Today, January 2, 2012, is the 92nd birthday of my father, Rev. Dr. Frederick William Barnes. At the inception of this new writing project, I find it only fitting that I take a moment to reflect briefly upon our lives together.
My Daddy, as I have typically referred to him, has been the subject of much reflection in my life and will likely be the subject of many of my musings here. As Shelly so poetically states, everything is linked to something that has come before. I am no exception.
In part, I am the woman I am because of all I have learned from watching, listening to, emulating and yes, denying the parts of myself that are like my father. Parts I have judged to have merit and those I have held in disdain. There are ways that we have been with each other that I do not like. And there are ways that we have been that I will hold dear forever.
I have fond memories of special times with him: reading the newspaper, walking to the library, getting butter brickle ice cream from Highs, going swimming at East Potomac Park. I also have painful memories of feeling harshly judged and being heartbroken that he was not there to protect me or care for me as I wanted him to be. Perhaps most challenging of all, I have spent many years being enraged that he is the parent who was left here with me after my mother made her transition some 34 years ago.
In all, I have learned much from him. I can say today that I am proud to be his daughter. I have not always been able to say this. Indeed, there are aspects of his personality that I do not especially like–as I am confident is the case for him with me. Nevertheless, I know today that all I see in my father is truly only a reflection of me and I count myself blessed that he has graciously offered a telescopic lens I can now use as a tool to visit the landscape of my life. Particularly the parts I sometimes would rather not see.
Ultimately, my desire is to allow unconditional love, compassion, acceptance, forgiveness and honor to be the character of my relationship with him in the time we have remaining together on this earth plane. I realize this may, at times, mean making the choice to see him through the eyes of grace when appearances might prove otherwise. I pray I am able to do so.
Buddha once said, “There are two mistakes one can make along the road to truth…not going all the way, and not starting.” This is my humble beginning.
What are you choosing to begin, or continue, in important relationships during 2012?