My father is man with a tough skin and a broken heart.He comes from an era in which men were mountains and mountains never cracked, crumbled or shivered. He has always been a mountain to me, well until I grew up. As I grew, he began to shrink. As an adult, I now recognise that he is just a man, just a mortal.
My father inadvertently, and much to his shame, has taught me about addictive personalities, bad eating habits, what mismanagement of finances looks like and what happens to a mind that is caged for fear and ego.
I was raised by giants, gods, mountains. I believe it still. All who meet my mother now, and met my father then, would agree with me. My parents were the most powerful human beings on the face of the planet. They are tired now, both of them.
Mental illness, addiction and bad habits can do that to a heart. Make it tired, make it heavy, make it old. My father has suffered 2 heart attacks, 2 full-blown strokes and has experienced multiple episodes of delirium. He is not old, yet he moves and thinks like tectonic plates, weighted by the Earth and all who live on its surface.
My father had a brilliant mind, has a brilliant mind (in short moments). It was in one of these short moments last weekend in which he turned to me, and with passion and enthusiasm that almost made me forget the last 12-years of maladaptive behaviour, said the second most important thing that he has ever said to me.
You see, my father doesn’t really say much, or hasn’t said much that my brain can fully understand, in a long time. Since his first stroke, which was 16 years ago, he has been falling into a world of guilt, regret and selfishness, understandable, but difficult none the less.
A friend of mine pointed out the other day, that I had spoken my father out of existence. She said, “I didn’t even know that you had a father, you never mention him.” I was mortified, how had I allowed this to happen? How had I managed to allow a mountain to crumble into dust?
I, only now, in my adulthood, am beginning to learn and understand what happens to a human being when parts of their brain atrophy (die). Society doesn’t teach us how to be around people who have different brain structures or brains that have broken down. I did not know how to speak my reality into the light and out of the shadow of shame.
My father taught me to try everything in life at least once, he told me not to cut any experiences out of my knowledge. He said, “do it once, if you don’t like it, turn away and never do it again. I heard him and have lived every day with those words glowing in my heart.
The second message he shared with me was, “Don’t allow those who are fearful to fall behind. Make sure that there are pathways for all people to come to where you want them to be.” My father’s mind is faulty, his brain is being slowly destroyed and his body is following fast in the wake of the messes he created for himself in his younger years.
His mind will go but the wisdom he has shared with me will burn on, fresh and bright far into the generations that come after me. For this, I am forever grateful.