I want to share a bit about my father. He is no longer in physical form; however, I cannot say he died, for I know that he did not.
By the world’s standards, my Dad was illiterate. His love for the written word was coupled with a sadness that he did not have the skill to comprehend what was on a page. Reading was accomplished through my mother’s voice, as she shared her skills with him. He paid close attention. He applied the same concentration to signing his name. It was a struggle, but his pride in finishing the task was palpable, even as I sensed some embarrassment that he could not write more. It took a long time for me to understand that part of his gentleness came from being out of step with a literate world. It handicapped him in one sense and, yet, was responsible for his gentleness of spirit.
His gentleness was his strength. It was like a magnet, attracting all who came within its field. He seemed to love everyone. As the rest of the world watched, judged, criticized, and attacked, Dad saw only the good in each and every one. Children gravitated to him, and adults, too. I have heard only kind words spoken about him.
Despite his illiteracy, he was able to teach me in life and in ‘death.’ For even though his body is gone, his recent visit in the night was a reassurance that love never dies.
Dad was walking in the middle with me on his right and another figure (whom I have come to believe is his mother) on his left. He was wearing a suit, the brown one he was buried in, I believe.
I was supporting him under his arm when I realized that he did not need my help.
As we walked in downtown Halifax, I noticed that city looked extra nice. It occurred to me that it was because of the upcoming G-7 Summit. But as I looked around more carefully, I realized that we could not be in Halifax. The buildings were too big and too beautiful. One building in particular had a huge gold architectural molding gleaming on its façade.
As the dream ended, the three of us were in the back seat of a car, seated in the same order that we had been as we walked. Dad wrapped me in his arms and said, “I want you to know that I will always love you.”
The dream revealed to me that he is strong. As I was holding him up, I realized he was now able to walk without my support.
The dream revealed to me that he is in a better place, more beautiful than before.
The dream revealed his great love. It will support me.
Since the dream, I have been thinking about the lessons he taught. And I realize that he is the most important teacher I have known, for he taught not with words, or theories, or with an impressive vocabulary. He taught by being.
Just by being, he made us feel safe in an unsafe world.
Just by being, he communicated that love is all there is.
Just by being, he taught that words are not only unnecessary but totally inadequate.
Material things did not matter, except they could bring some joy: a candy for a crying child, a new dress for a troubled daughter. Symbols of a love so deep there seemed no other earthly way for him to express it.
He was not a religious man. In church, one might be asked to read a scripture, I suppose. He did not even seem to be a spiritual man. In actuality, he seemed uncertain of the existence of God. And yet, he personified Christ in the most important way – the way he lived.
Paradoxically, he was not a happy man, but he found happiness in the presence of his children. As adults, we saw his spirit visibly sag as each of us embarked on our own journey, separating ourselves from him. Then, as we returned home for visits, he would again bloom, like a flower once more exposed to the sun.
Gifts were never expected, were even shunned, but were trotted out for all to see. “Sheila gave me this.” Or Bernie. Grant. Roger. Jean. Hazel. It was the giver that was valued, never the gift. He cared not for the object itself. He cared for the giver of the gift and remembered who gave what, even when we did not.
My father on earth taught me what my Father in Heaven wants me to know:
Teach only love for that is what you are. A Course in Miracles
Sheila M. Kelly