Today would’ve been my father’s 86th birthday. He only actually made it to 61 so he’s been gone quite a long while.

This is not a topic I broach very often, but my father and I did not have a pleasant relationship. He was an angry and abusive man. The angry part he had his reasons for. The abusive part was partially because he was very unhappy with the son he got as opposed to the son he had imagined he would get when my mom announced she was pregnant with child #1. I think it was also partially because he never dealt with the anger issues and so that’s just how it came out. I won’t disturb you with the details. But it wasn’t pretty.

It is curious that I even noticed his birthday was today. Most years I don’t even think of it. But this year his birthday happen to fall upon the day when I write my message to you and so it just sort of popped into my head.

Many of us who have unhappy relationships with family members take a long time to come to resolution with that. Fortunately, the rest of my birth family are amazing and I had a mom who somehow had the ability to be both mother and father to us so for this I am eternally grateful.

But as to dad… yeah. Dad. That took a long time. And a lot of hours at the hand of an amazing therapist. But I did get there.

The happy news in all of this is that it just doesn’t hurt anymore. I mean, seriously. It doesn’t. In fact, I am grateful for the father I had, too. That happened when that amazing therapist – who happened to be a medicine woman of the Shawnee Tribe – said to me the following:

“Wow. Your father must’ve loved you so very much to come to earth to play the part of such a terrible man so that you could grow up to be such a beautiful one.”

Cue the tears. It was a moment of instant healing. The next chance I had I went to visit my father’s grave so that I could say “Hey dude. We’re good. Thanks for the teachings.”

I have long said that I wouldn’t change anything about my life because I love who I am and I love the life I live. Because of that, I must logically in turn be grateful to the Divine for everything I have experienced – “good” or “bad.” The quotes around good and bad are because they are basically just labels we put on our experiences. I hope that in sharing a tiny bit of this story that maybe I have given you something to think about regarding challenging moments in your past.

I have not said these words in probably more than 30 years. But I’m going to say them now.

Happy birthday dad. Thanks for the teachings.

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