I have written about my father before and will not revisit the problems. Suffice to say, he was not a good father. As a girl child I suffered because of that but I have a pretty strong mother. If the most important parent for a child is the same-sex parent then I scored, and scored well.
Yesterday I visited his grave and left flowers. On the grave was a white cross with a poppy and a small US Flag. I placed the roses on his grave and cleaned up the marker a bit. I stood back and said a prayer.
Looking over the grounds I could see what seemed like thousands of the little white crosses and flags. Many men and women were being remembered that day.
I wondered if any had been missing in action from their lives in the way my father was while I was growing up? I know it is easy, nowadays, to dismiss what he was as being the result of PTSD. He was a combat veteran in WW2. He took part in the only battles fought on North American Soil. He was only 17/18 years old.
Yet his inability to love and be loved cannot only be the result of combat terror. I see in others the results of the kind of inner-self-focus that makes unselfish love virtually impossible. Not everyone there fought hand-to-hand combat in the fog on an isolated island off the coast of Alaska. Not everyone was beaten as a child. Not everyone has been Depression Era Poor.
My own battles with selfishness and self-centeredness are legendary (in my own mind) so I know that it is a part of the disease I have smashed into remission, just for today. It would be easy for me to look at others and decide that they, too, must also be fighting the same demon but that cannot be the answer every time.
So what is it? What makes the type of self-love necessary to think through every action one takes before taking it - how will this affect my children? Will it hurt someone close to me? What allows us the wisdom and prudence to know when we are taking or not taking an action for the right reasons and not as a way to try and manipulate someone into thinking how fabulous we are so we can get something from them later?
I have received Sacramental Gifts as the result of being Catholic. If I ask specifically for those Gifts to give me the strength, fortitude, wisdom and prudence necessary to make right decisions I will be granted that request. It is, however, up to me to ask and it is up to me to be open to that grace.
Without Sacramental Grace the struggle is a heckuva lot more difficult. With it, I can soar...and I want to soar.
Thank you for your service, Dad. I love you and I miss you.