what can I bring?

My father taking me (in the carriage) and my sister out for a spin. He was 30 and I was just a few months old when this photo was taken.

My father and I are taking a trip today, but this time I will be doing the driving. He turned 87 this year, and I’ll be 57 next week. When he asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I told him that I would love to go up north (to the Saranac Lake/Paul Smiths area of New York where he grew up) with him and just see it through his eyes for a day.

We’ve talked about taking this trip for the past 10 years and at one point, I seriously doubted it would ever happen because he would never commit. I wasn’t even sure (until he called to confirm 2 days ago) if it we were still on for today, and I had made peace with this possibility …maybe I wasn’t ready until today.

As I think about this, I’m sure it is true. Up until the last few years, I’d still needed something from him. I’m not sure if it was approval, recognition or just attention, but for most of my life, I’d lived with the feeling that I wasn’t getting enough of him. He seemed just out of reach to me and this left me with a grasping feeling, which made me angry at both him and myself.

It wasn’t easy to turn this pattern around; to stop looking for what I was getting from the relationship, and to start thinking about what I was bringing, but the reward had been the feeling that I have even more love to give.

The tighter you squeeze, the less you have“. Thomas Merton

31 thoughts on “what can I bring?”

  1. “It wasn’t easy to turn this pattern around; to stop looking for what I was getting from the relationship, and to start thinking about what I was bringing, but the reward had been the feeling that I have even more love to give.”
    Mary….bringing and giving love!!! That is a boomerang… so sweet and makes our hearts purr! Wonderfully peaceful, yet bubbly thoughts are heading your way my friend! love, marjorie

  2. What a blessing that you still have your Dad with you…I hope you have a safe trip and enjoy the journey. Don’t forget to take lots of pics!!! xoxo

  3. Love the pic. My mother was born and raised in Saranac. And I was born there.
    I didn’t know your dad was from that area!

  4. There is a time and a place for everything… enjoy your special day, appears today is that time 🙂
    Tomorrow is the first day of Autumn, wishing a beautiful day for everyone!

  5. So simple and so profound….how wonderful that you reached this place while you still have time with your dad. The Merton quote is wonderful, and so is the photo. Thank you for a beautiful start to the day.

  6. It wasn’t until that I realized that my father had his own way in expressing his love that I was able to take in and accept what he had to offer – and when I did, our relationship became much richer. Interestingly, I was able to take things less personally when I accepted him as he was, and we became really good friends. I am so grateful that I had that moment of grace.

    Have a wonderful time with your dad today Mary!

  7. I guess my feeling is that acceptance in all things allows the mind peace and while it’s something I strive for, it’s not always something I’m able to do. I’ve watched the same thing happen with my husband and his daughter. She has tried for years to reach him both physically and emotionally so your comment, Mary, about your dad has struck a chord with me. I am less needy emotionally than my stepdaughter because her experience hasn’t been mine, but I too, experience the inability for emotional closeness with her father, my husband. I’ve accepted that while he has many fine qualities, intimacy and emotional connectedness isn’t one of them and that’s a sadness for me. I often wonder what it would have been like to have grown up, as my stepdaughter has, trying to connect with her father all those years. Parents don’t come to be perfect just because they become parents. I think we, as their children, expect them to be and to fill all our needs as their children. Sometimes they just aren’t capable of it themelves. The gift of a day taking your dad back to a place in his memory and the time spent with him is a generous gift to give, Mary. When people age they don’t need monitary gifts but the gift of time spent with them to me is the most important gift of all.
    SandyP in Canada

    1. Too close. Too distant. Too much. Not enough. It’s hard to get to “just right”, isn’t it? We expect an awful lot from parents.

  8. Dear Mary, I hope your trip with your dad is filled with delight! What a wonderful idea and I’m sure you will both receive some special gift out of the experience together. Daughters and fathers…..a unique and profound relationship which brings continuous lessons, deep realizations and a life-long opportunity to grow spiritually.

  9. I’m in agreement with the comments of Sandy P. so “thank you Sandy”. After a great deal of time and many of my own life experiences I would be eager to have the opportunity to explore with my parents what their life was like though their eyes.
    I love the snapshot! And send many good wishes Mary, to you and your Dad for a wonderful trip into the Adirondaks.

    Love from Fran

  10. I find the converse to be true too — have an expectation and immediately set yourself up for disappointment.

    I was at a wedding this summer in the area you’re heading off to, with the reception in the forestry lodge at Paul Smith’s. What a gorgeous part of the world!

  11. Mary Have a wonderful day with your father up north. It sounds like a trip you’ve been waiting to take and I hope you both enjoy your day.

  12. Well, Mary, the trunk of your car is filled to brimming with the flock’s good wishes for a beautiful and memorable day, making new memories as you traverse the paths of your past together. – the Merton quote immediately made me think of this one, and for years! I’ve been trying to find the identity of the poet – I’ve searched by typing first lines, etc. Anybody recognize this? I love it for its brevity and message:

    “I hold my love but lightly, for I know that things with wings held tightly, want to go”.

    And this is for you Suzanne Tate: on Writer’s Almanac they mentioned that it is Leonard Cohen’s birthday today, and you’ve mentioned enjoying his music more than once:

    It’s the birthday of Canadian singer-songwriter, poet, and novelist Leonard Cohen (books by this author), born in Montreal (1934). He started out as a poet, publishing a few well-received volumes in the 1950s and ’60s, including Let Us Compare Mythologies (1956) and The Spice-Box of Earth (1961). He also wrote a couple of novels: The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966). But he was disappointed that writing didn’t pay better, so he moved to the United States to become a folk singer and songwriter. He wasn’t happy with the arrangements on his first album, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), but it became a cult favorite. His 1984 album, Various Positions, included one of his most popular songs, “Hallelujah.” It’s been covered by nearly 200 other singers in a variety of languages.

    Cohen released his 12th studio album earlier this year; it’s called Old Ideas (2012).

    1. Susan…bless your heart! I came a little late to Leonard Cohen…probably around 1969, and he reminded me of Bob Dylan, whose lyrics I loved but whose voice frayed my last nerve (sorry to all Bob Dylan fans)!

      What a sweet gift you’ve given me, Susan, and I thank you so much!

      1. You’re so welcome Suzanne! but I have to thank YOU, because I pulled up Leonard Cohen on Spotify, and so many of the songs Judy Collins made famous (and I really loved Judy as a young teen and still do) are Leonard’s songs. The things we find out decades later!

  13. Dear Mary I hope you and your Dad have a beautiful day together. I would have given anything to be able to go to Sweden where my Dad was born to explore his family roots together. I love what Susan said about the trunk of your car brimming with all of our good wishes. Have a nice weekend flock.

  14. Since my parents died 10 months apart when I was 12 & 13, all I have are memories which seem as if in a dream when I go back to the little papermill town on the Columbia River. And being abandoned by first loves, friends who move away, etc. deepens that pothole from so long ago. There’s a hole in my life where parents were supppsed to be. Perhaps it makes me extra loving to friends & lovers but maybe a little too clingy for situations I can’t control. Hmmmm. Guess we all get whatever lessons we need. Life goes on.

  15. Recently, after my dear aunt (my mother’s older sister) passed away, my cousin lovingly shared many many old photographs with us that she found in my aunt’s home. Pictures that my 82 year old mother hadn’t recalled ever seeing…of her young parents and siblings, decades and decades ago. When we shared the pictures with my mother, she got lost in them for hours…literally hours…she could not put them down…and it prompted a spontaneous ‘ride’ to her old neighborhood to see if we could locate the house she grew up in which had long ago been moved to accommodate a railroad line. When we found the house and pulled up in front of it, my mom was almost physcially, mentally, and emotionally transported back to her youth. It was absolutely amazing, and heartwarming to hear/observe/witness my mother’s expressions, stories, laughter, and some tears as she recalled long ago memories. My mother talked about those pictures and that ‘ride’ for days…and still remarks that she can’t believe those pictures! It was fun to share that day with her…those memories. On that day I was very lucky, I know. I got much more from our relationship that day than I gave…I am sure of that…and I am forever grateful.

    I wish you, Mary, and your Dad, a day of amazing memories, autumn magic, and the miracles of love…

  16. Mary, have a wonderful time with your dad. I am 56, and both my parents have been gone for years. You are so lucky to have both parents alive and in your life, whatever they bring to it, and whatever you can share in.

  17. What a wonderful gift you are giving both your dad and yourself, Mary. My dad passed six years ago at the age of 93. He and I were like oil and water most of my life. I respected him and I know he really loved me, but he was from the old school of parenting and my wings were too big to be clipped.

    Two weeks before he passed, he and I were both in the hospital as patients. One night, I couldn’t sleep and I dragged myself and my IV pole downstairs to his room, and in a moment of wonderful grace, we made a deep connection that dissolved all the years that went before. If ever there was a divine ‘set-up,’ that night was it. We squeezed a lot into the remaining two weeks, even though he was bed-ridden, and it made his passing both more sad and more glorious than I would have imagined.

    He passed in the early morning of Father’s Day and I will be forever grateful for that brief time of pure love that we shared.

    Your day with your dad will be beautiful. Just go fo it, as if it’s the last.

    1. Suzanne, what a wonderful experience you’ve had with your father in the hospital. In my generation, fathers were the breadwinners, mothers stayed home and looked after families. Nowadays it’s different but back then I don’t think children had the same connection with dads as maybe some do today. I loved the comment about your wings being too big to be clipped. You must have had more gumption than I did growing up (smile). I’ve enjoyed everyone’s post, one common denominator, a father and a myriad of experiences and memories.

  18. Our parents are so special. Being an only child I miss mine. We weren’t rich but there was lots of love in my home. I was so blessed indeed. We should enjoy them when they are with us. I do believe that they are both watching over me.

  19. Here I am again when mom passed away I was with her but her ashes came back on my birthday Sept. 21/2006. At first I thought oh thats my birthday but you know what since mom and dad were to be buried side by side in Pointe Claire Veterans Cemetery I decided with God’s help iit would be a time of spending time with mom and dad on my birthday since I now live in Ontario and don’t get there very often. A friend of mine came to the cemetery with her hubby and brought a beautiful big rose for mom’s grave and one for me for my birthday, that was so special. They lived close by. God is so good. My dad passed away in 1990 and I certainly miss him too but I know he’s with me, now along with mom and thank you Lord for them both.

    I just pray that people that are at odds with their mom or dad, should think about making a change. Even if you think someone else is wrong it doesn’t mean you can’t make the first step. Grudges and Unforgiveness only hurt the one who is harbouring this.

  20. The last two post came together for me with an insight I had during a memorial service I attended on Saturday. It was for an exceptional man, a retired physician, who died abruptly in the midst of a full, rewarding life. He left behind his spouse, children, grandchildren, family and friends, former colleagues and many, many patients. The church literally overflowing with people whose lives he had touched.

    I saw people there that I still see regularly and some I haven’t seen for years. We were all caught up in a collective moment, like the pause between exhaling and drawing the next breathe. I looked around me and saw lives in progress that cannot be explained by anything I could know or remember about them. If I knew anything, it was only in this single, collective moment, It was a clear view of the lens through which I see others, that only reflects me. In that single moment, I realized how little my judgments of anyone or anything matter, including judgements about myself.

    I was there to find closure about unexpectedly losing a friend, but I think I what I actually found was something about the peacefulness of letting go in each moment to allow an unknown moment to be born, and i need to remember this.

    1. Barbara C-M, this was beautifully put….another ray of light on a lesson we all need to learn. Thank you.

    2. This is a stunningly deep and touching observation/story Barbara…thank you

  21. I am so glad to have checked out last night’s posts – a day later. You never know what gems may be posted late night – Barbara, thank you for capturing the poignant moment and feelings you experienced in the memorial service. I love your phrase and idea, “letting go, just being there, for an unknown moment to be born”.

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