Thursday, 5 February 2009

father time

My dad is an amazing man – the epitomy of a self-made, post-war American citizen: bright, capable, confident and adventurous. He grew up in Queens, New York, when his apartment building backed on to fields; he won scholarships to the best universities and later sold weapons systems overseas as a businessman and travelled the world regularly while revelling in its rich pickings. And this very appetite without boundary or reference to the whole – he is an aetheist - is also his great flaw. Like so many of his generation, he was bigoted and could be mentally overbearing towards people who did not agree with him. He sometimes reduced me, even as an adult, to tears. Which later turned to anger; you could never win an argument with Dad, and my friend Cat used to refer to him as God.

My dad’s 83 now. He’s got Alzheimers and doesn’t recognize me any more, even though he hugs me and is unusually tender. He nearly died last week; he fell over, breaking his hip and ending up in hospital with double pneumonia. During this time, I had the uncomfortable realisation that my feelings of ambivalence towards him were actually deep-seated resentment: powerless anger left unexpressed. I was resentful that he didn’t acknowledge me for who I am, and for not having ideals. I realised that this resentment is a mirror of the resentment I feel towards mankind as a whole, particularly our leaders. They - I believe - through overbearing greed, are plundering the bounty of creation, our Eden, taking life to the brink, including the least powerful human beings who are already suffering and dying as a result.

And when I say mankind, of course I mean me, my thoughts projected out. Cancer, according to Louise Hay, springs from deep resentment. According to her and many other contemporary healers, illness is caused by our own beliefs, which are simply a thought repeated over and over. That’s not to say I blame myself or even my father; rather, identifying and taking responsibility for the cause empowers me to seek the route towards healing.

And so the real work begins – at home. As I sat next to my father in hospital on Saturday, holding his hand, I asked, from the depths of my heart, to be relieved of this deep, destructive resentment towards humanity and my father, to see him as the completely innocent man he really is.


Fr. Peter Doodes said...

Often overbearing people are very successful, I have observed this at close range.

The idea of being wrong, or their being another point of view never even enters their radar. While it can mean they become leaders in their own fields, it can so easily become a character flaw and, like your father make some almost impossible to live with.

It is sad and also ironic that he is at last treating you in the way that one would expect him to.

adrienne campbell said...

Yes, Fr Peter, true leadership is a rare and precious thing.