Autumn Memories

dad and daughter dancing

Dad’s birthday was September 8th.  In my memory, summer ended and school always started on that same day.  Which is, of course, totally impossible.  Still, each year, there are sights and smells and sounds that bring me right back to Dad’s side, a carefully and horribly wrapped present extended for his inspection. 

The first morning each year I step outside with the dog and the air which, just yesterday was heavy and warm, is instead cool and crisp, I think of Dad.  Standing at the kitchen window, warm mug of coffee cradled in my palms, watching the neighbor kids troop off to school, book bags unstained, clothes perfectly creased and painstakingly arranged to appear casual and cool, I see Dad’s smile.  Glancing up as I pull out of the driveway on some errand and noticing the ring of fiery orange leaves at the very tiptop of the neighbor’s sugar maple, Dad’s with me in the car.

These yearly events drop me back inside my child’s body and mind and I’m right there, arms extended with my gift, waiting on, hoping for Dad’s approval and love.   Of course, Dad died almost ten years ago.  Some would say it’s too late to receive the blessing of his love that I spent my childhood seeking. 

People are entitled to their opinion.

I grew up with a bighearted, insecure, narcissistic father.  A father for whom every event, be it a rainy picnic day, the small successes and failures of his daughters, the results of a wrestling match on TV–every single thing that occurred in life revolved around him, the center of the universe.  I loved him.  But never figured out how to be the person he wanted me to be.  How to be lovable to him.  Oh, I don’t mean he didn’t love me.  Of course, he did.  As a satellite that circled around him. 

It wasn’t until Dad died, not until after the guilt trips and demands for attention and persistent manipulation ended, that I came to recognize and luxuriate in his love. 

A few days after his death, Jesus brought Dad to me in a dream.  

The two appeared at the crest of a green hill, strolling side-by-side.  I ran toward them, got close enough to see Dad’s sparkling blue eyes, Jesus’s love.  Dad shook his head, made me understand I couldn’t come any closer.  Not yet.  He told me his heart had been healed, the fear and anger and pain of his own childhood, wounds that had clouded his love for me, were simply blown away by the breath of God.  Dad said he came to say that he was finally able to see me, to know me as I am.  He said he loved me.  I believed him.

Then Jesus and Dad, strolled away. They turned toward me once from the top of the hill.  Jesus smiled.  Dad raised his hand in the air in one, final goodbye.

So, why am I sharing this with you today?  Because with the release of My Life with a Wounded Warrior, the story of living with my Vietnam veteran husband, Jack, some have asked how on earth I come by the loyalty and commitment to stay, to persevere and triumph and grow in a marriage to a man so wounded by war.

This is my public thank you to Dad and to Jesus for teaching me the meaning of true love and thus enabling me to survive and glory in the adventure of a lifetime.

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About Author and Speaker Pamela Foster

Pamela Foster is a speaker and author. Her first book, Redneck Goddess, is available at local bookstores and on Amazon. Her second book, Bigfoot Blues, will be available in August 2012.
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8 Responses to Autumn Memories

  1. lunazega says:

    Pam, you are so lovely. I was blessed–truly blessed–to know my father’s unconditional love during his lifetime. It’s amazing what our father’s teach us and shape us. I never thought Daddy had anything to do with my childhood. He seemed to be a distant figure who lurked in the background behind Mama’s love, but that quiet, unconditional love made me who I am today–flawed, arrogant and a good cook. In addition to my many flaws, I am a person who has the same convictions and duty to family and friends that Daddy had. Thanks for sharing your story.

  2. I love the ‘and a good cook’ addition. My dad taught me to iron a bowling shirt like a pro. Good skills, both of them.

  3. Sandy Caudle says:

    Its strange reading this and thinking back I can still picture your Dad exactly as he was so many years ago There are a few people that I have a picture memory of and your Dad is one of them. He is always smiling in my memories you bring back..I always enjoy reading your writing especially the ones that take me back in time keep it up Sandy

  4. Linda Apple says:

    “He told me his heart had been healed, the fear and anger and pain of his own childhood, wounds that had clouded his love for me, were simply blown away by the breath of God.”

    This is why God said to leave the “judging” up to him and for us to “love.” No one knows the depths of pain others feel or have experienced. We all can, and hopefully will, learn from you Pam. You are precious.

  5. Pamela, my mother’s birthday is September 8. Your piece today is so beautiful–such a wonderful message, too, about the pain of others is usually unknown to us. I love Linda Apple’s comment about not judging–such a hard lesson for most of us. Than you f\or writing this…
    Arline Chandler

  6. Stormy Hawn says:

    Pam,
    What a beautiful story. I remember looking at my parents, one at a time, in the coffin and saying to myself, “It is all done now. The arguments, demands and the love are ended. The only thing that can keep any of it going is my memories, and I choose to remember only the good parts.” And there are a lot of “good parts” to remember. I was blessed by and with my parents.
    – stormy

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