The journey of life…

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Eleanor resting

Several days ago as I was walking on a very rural road, I heard a door open…there were no houses around. As I continued along, I began to see red-tailed hawks, which I’ve always associated with my paternal grandmother, Maude. I returned home and noticed a male cardinal sitting in a tree near the entrance to our driveway, and the words, “Hi Dad” came out of my mouth. I’d never associated cardinals with my father before, and I hadn’t heard from him in months, so the words surprised me. Later that evening I found out that my father had passed away…probably while I was on my walk. After I made the necessary phone calls to family and went to bed, a deep feeling of relief and freedom came over me. I felt like I was flying and I could feel my father laughing and flying too. This feeling has stayed with me.

My father was 91 years old and for the past 6 months, he had cut off communication with everyone except his wife and her family, and since they didn’t communicate with us either, I felt somewhat in the dark. Around Christmas time, I finally made peace with the idea that I would not see him or talk with him again. This took a lot of focus on my part. My mind would keep saying things like, “How dare he keep me away after I’ve been so good to him!” or “Why doesn’t he want to see me? Did I do something wrong?” But I kept bringing myself back to the thought, “Even if I don’t understand this, at some level, it has to be right.”

After he died, I could see how his letting go of me last summer was really a blessing. It helped me to let go of my ideas about how things “should” be, and to not judge either him or myself for the way he chose to live and to die.

Over these past few days, I’ve felt closer to my father than ever before. All barriers to love are dissolved and what I sense now, when I think about him, is laughter, light, and a spirit of fun.

I realize that my experience of my father’s death is not everyone’s. Many people do feel deep grief, loss, sadness, or despair. But my experience is a valid one too, and one that many people feel uncomfortable expressing. Over the years, I’ve spoken to hundreds of people who have had a parent die and say that they feel guilty because they don’t feel bad.

That is the reason for my writing today. I truly do not need or want condolences. There is a Divine order to this life, this universe, that is beyond my conscious mind’s ability to understand. My father’s life here on earth, and his life now in the unseen realm, is a part of the mystery of being, and I am so happy that I was, and am, a part of that. As odd as it may have looked to others, as “dysfunctional” and disturbing as it could have been described, life as Bob Muncil’s daughter was a wild trip. Bon voyage, Dad!

Some of us think holding on makes us strong: but sometimes it is letting go.”            Hermann Hess

50 thoughts on “The journey of life…

  1. Oh, Mary, thank you so much for this. My sister and I felt the same way with our parents’ deaths. So many people said to each of us, “It must not have hit you yet,” but that wasn’t true. I loved both my parents dearly – we were close – but they didn’t want to be trapped in old bodies and struggling with memory and other issues. It was a release and a relief to them and to us (I believe) when they died. I am free to remember them now as they wished to be remembered. I’m sure we seemed cold to others, but in many ways it was just the opposite. I dream of them often — not deep, meaningful dreams, but they are present in my dreams as they were in my life — and I feel they are very close to me still. Tears are only one way of honoring or grieving for a loved one. Letting go is another way. And how wonderful to hear from you again.

  2. Mary, I understand that condolences are not needed by you, that in accepting your life with your father there were differentness’s in your relationship with him as there are in many familial situations and there is acceptance as well. I recently experienced the death of someone I have known since the age of seventeen. His wife and I are long-time friends. A kind and generous man, he also suffered the addiction of alcohol which ruled but did not interfere with a successful career. But in later life, retired, it did become a painful issue for his family and his friends, for himself, for me, living close by. It became necessary for his wife to live her own life, separate to his, given his addiction and in this towards the end when he was not well, I am having struggles in accepting this but we all cared about him. He was always cheerful when I called, he was intelligent, he was always upbeat despite the ravages of his addiction now affecting his body. And when he died, I drove his wife to the crematorium, following his body in the hearse. I watched as much of the process of cremation as allowed and felt not only was I privileged to share this with him, but that I would never have been given this opportunity to know what my body will go through in the end. And yet, the conflicting emotions of loss, of grieving for his life of addiction, of anger, too, towards it, how could he do this to himself, to his family, to his friends and yet, the acceptance of the frailty as humans we all have within us. I find myself still in tears at times, tears I don’t understand, for his choices were his. Perhaps it’s all about regret and accepting that we are all human beings in this world who are less than perfect. And allowing others to be who they are and were.
    Thank you for your wonderful posting, I do miss seeing you in my inbox.
    Sandy Proudfoot, Ont.Canada

  3. Thank you so very much for this post. My 91-yr old dad died in July. I saw him daily the past 2 years. It was a relief to know he could shed his pain-filled worn out body and be free once again. We have five pair of cardinals that hang out at the feeders. I think of my dad, special aunts and uncle, and grandparents when I see them. I heard the owl the other night which really made me think of my dad. Namaste

  4. FABULOUS post, Mary! Of course to me Bob Muncil will always be as he was as our host at breakfast at The Danville Inn!

  5. Your dad, I will always remember as a very handsome man. And I was always so jealous of your family because you would come home from Florida with beautiful tans! I thought “how wonderful to have parents that were willing and could afford such a trip for their children.” I am so glad you are at peace with him leaving this earth. I do understand, I felt the same when my father died…but not with my mom. I expected to feel the same, but I did grieve and still do at times. And I know that is just fine too. Thanks for sharing your heart with us!

    • Dear Tricia,
      Your perspective about my family makes me smile! I don’t think anyone would have been jealous if they had really seen how my parents acted inside our home, but thank you so much for your memories of my dad. I’m sure he is smiling too (especially to be remembered as handsome!).
      So much love to you,
      Mary

  6. My first thought was to tell you how sorry I am for you and your family at the loss of your dad…no matter how old or infirm our loved ones may be I’m saddened when they are gone.
    Wishing you peace and your dad eternal rest on this new journey.
    Sending love and hugs ❤️❤️❤️

  7. I am adoring this post. I have more family in the spiritual world now than I do in this material one, and it has strengthened my believe in the wonderful mystery, as you say, in this life we have been given. There are so many connections I have felt from many of them over the years, that I am endeared that they continue to be with me and I with them. It is somewhat sad to not be able to physically see or chat with them, but it just gives us all the more time to physically see and chat with those remaining friends and family. My sister and I are the remaining living pair and we both have such a, what I would call, healthy attitude towards ‘death’ and I want to believe that this helped us help our 93-year-old mother ‘die right’, as she said, not too long ago. It was truly beautiful.

    And yes, it was wonderful hearing from you again, Mary. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  8. Hi Mary, I’ve been checking for days my special e-mailbox, where your posts show up. I was glad to see there was one today. I was moved by what you had to say about your father. Thanks, as always. Rick

  9. Blessings Mary for your wise words. I lost two beloved pets in a two week period – both were completely unanticipated. I miss them and cried but throughout the grieving I’ve been feeling a similar rightness about their moving on and a deep gratitude for their presence and now absence in my life. It has confused me a bit, how “glad” I am to have them gone (don’t get me wrong, I LOVED them both dearly). This post helped validate and clarity this experience I have been having as well. I am grateful for you!!!
    Kristin

    • I appreciate you sharing this so much, Kristin. I have had the same experience when animals in my life have passed. I admire your honesty…it is healing and refreshing. Loving thoughts to you, Mary

  10. a good share! everyone is different, thank goodness. (hell must be everyone alike — clones)

    Martha Merwin 48 Grouse Ln Dorset VT 05251

    >

  11. Thank you, Mary for sharing. Every time I hear a Minnesota Loon call, it reminds me of Dad and how he loved fishing on the lakes talking to them.
    . When my husband passed the cardinal, his favorite bird continues to echo his love for me and the joy he is experiencing!!!

  12. Beautifully written Mary . I have only known you for a short period of time , and I absolutely enjoy talking with you . You have a way of making people feel very comfortable including myself .. 😊 God bless my friend. ❤️

  13. Dear Mary, my father died when I was 15; he was 36 years old; heart attack. His death completely up-ended my world and even now at the age of 66, I am still deeply affected at times by his passing. Your post really touched me; it offered a refreshing way of looking at the loss of a father…….no matter how old or young he may be. I will take your beautiful words into my heart and rejoice in the sweetness of your perspective. You inspire me with your ability to be flexible, knowledgeable and spiritually wise. Thank you for being you. Much love to you. I’m sure your dad will visit from time to time…..as my father’s spirit has visited with me all these many years.

    • I so appreciate your perspective, Debra…I am sure that my experience would have been very different if I was young when this happened. It has taken me a lifetime to really know what I feel/felt about things that happened in my life, but when we are young, we are steeped in the feelings/emotions of those around us (and in my case, my feelings and thoughts weren’t considered that important or even valid/right). Many blessings to you dear one. Mary

  14. Dearest Mary,

    What a wise and wonderful woman you are ” Even if I don’t understand this, at some level, it has to be right” says it all.

    Lots of hugs & love,
    Monika
    ❤❤❤

  15. Hi Mary –

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone describe feeling this way after a death – I’ve been carrying around so much guilt because when my mother passed I felt elation. I imagined her flying free and joyful, as her life had been so heavy and difficult. But I never told anyone – they expected me to be sad. At the same time, I feel closer to my mother now that I did in life. She left me her collection of books, and as I read each one, I remember her talking about it, and I think she’s glad I’m finally reading them.

    Thanks!

    Susan

    • I am so grateful for your comment, Susan. Each time I write this blog, my intention is to offer my perspective/experience in the hope that someone will be helped. Thank you. Love, Mary

  16. Oh dear Mary, upon reading your post and the thoughtful replies, I started to hear this song in my mind, Paul Mc Cartney singing “Let It Be”, which he says he wrote upon waking from a dream, “mother Mary”, referring to his own mother. So it would seem we are visited and comforted hopefully from another realm as you were with the birds and with the peace you had already found ‘letting go’, ‘letting it just be’ this past summer. Thank you for sharing from your heart’s well of wisdom. We are all the richer.

  17. Thanks so much for sharing this Mary from your sweet heart.
    My dad died suddenly five years ago. It was very hard. The beautiful part is the love. It is eternal and does not go anywhere, in fact it continues to grow stronger. Our relationship continues…… it is even easier to get in touch with him now.

  18. Thanks, Mary for this posting. As I read and re-read, a blessed sense of warmth and peace flooded me. Beautiful! Love to you and your family😘

  19. Mary, thank you for sharing. It’s nice to see WFF in my inbox. My experience as a hospice nurse has given me a different perspective on death than is typically expressed in our society. You’ve spoken so eloquently about your experience in life and death with your father. Many blessings to you and your family.

  20. It is nice to write again, Terri. A lot has been happening in my life, and my father’s passing brought me to a place where I also needed to reconnect with my WFF family!

  21. Hi there Mary, Do you still make that wonderful skin balm? I loved using that this time of year.

    Kind regards,

    Everett

  22. Hi, Mary! Sure am appreciating you and your perspective on your father’s passing. So much good going on in your life, so much good – great! – that you share with us all. May your father and all be at peace.
    Love to all (and thanks for many lessons imparted), Ann

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