My dad had to undergo heart surgery a few years ago, replacing a valve and inserting a pacemaker. Now he has to take medicine every day and he is more aware of his limits. He doesn’t want to risk it because it has forced him to see his mortality, to see his humanity, and to recognize that he has been doing too much. He has been acting like a superhero, trying to do everything without help and for all of these people that he loves dearly. Maybe it is his way of showing love and maybe his heart is screaming because there has been no space for letting love back in, no time for spending with all of these people that he has been doing all of this work for.
Now his body has forced him to slow down. His body can’t always keep up with his mind or desires or fantasies for work projects. He is having a hard time seeing himself slow down because he has always valued his ability to work quickly and to get things done on his own. There was so much pressure to be productive and support our family, and he did that while also renovating our house singlehandedly to create the dream house they always wanted. I remember wanting more from him; more time, more attention, more love. When we played together it was magical. He was the octopus on the bed and we were getting trapped in his legs. He lifted me up in the air on his feet and I was flying. In all of this play, we never got to talk about life.
Since his surgery, I have been able to spend more time with him leisurely sipping lattes or tea at coffee shops and talking about the world and love and what it means to be a human being. I have had the privilege of sharing my love and appreciation for his being. Our eyes well up with tears and our hearts swell at the opportunity to connect with each other and spend this quality one on one time. He talks about regretting not spending more time with his dad before it was no longer possible; and, I want to tell him that he is wasting his time on regret when we are experiencing that bonding right now and isn’t that beautiful? I want to shake the regret out of him so that it doesn’t weigh his heart down, so that it doesn’t keep him from enjoying what we do have in our own father-child relationship.
Maybe this is part of the slowing down process; going through these old tapes, revisiting this hurt and sadness and releasing it again and again so that it doesn’t hang as heavy on the soul. We have to revisit the parts of ourselves that need the most healing so we can understand who we are. This is part of who he is: a father and a son; part of getting to know him is listening to his stories and seeing him as a human being. He likes living in the past, he loves his father, and I love him for being able to express that and feel that with me. I love that he has been forced to slow down by his body to acknowledge his heart because it is teaching me how to appreciate the time that I have with the people that I care about and it is giving me more time with my father.