Post written by Suraj Shah.
Father: one who provides, protects, and creates the environment for growth.
As young children in the playground at school, we would often boast “my daddy is the best!”
What makes your father the best?
When it comes to my dad, I certainly appreciate how he has always been our provider and protector. He has worked hard to keep a roof over our heads, whilst continuing to show his love through hugs and treats.
My earliest memory with dad was probably when I was 4 or 5 years old, when we were standing at the top of the staircase at our old house, and dad was teaching me how to tie my shoe laces. He did it with such care and patience.
A father’s shelter
Over the years, I remember dad for how he has:
- taught my brother and I how to ride our bikes.
- taught us how to put up lining paper and repaint the house.
- taught us how to mow the lawn.
- taught us how to swim.
- helped us get onto our own two feet.
Even now, married and living in my own house, my dad recently guided me over the phone how to fix the overflowing toilet cistern. Previously I’d left it to dad to sort out issues to do with maintaining the house, but it’s a wonderful feeling to learn these DIY skills, whilst knowing that I can lean on dad if I need some guidance.
My father has certainly provided for us and protected us over the years, and even better, he has shown us how to become independent and even take care of those who depend on us.
Fear of losing dad
Within weeks of mum passing away in 2006, we had another death in the family. On the day of mum’s uncle’s funeral, when the body was brought into the house and a pre-cremation ritual was taking place, I could see the sadness that the sons were facing at the loss of their father.
My dad was standing half way up the stairs, and at that moment, deep sorrow hit me. I darted up the stairs, embraced dad and I started sobbing. As tears flooded down my face, I held dad tighter and said “don’t leave so soon, I need you here”. Fear of losing dad, a type of fear that I didn’t know I had, came to the surface, and I couldn’t stop sobbing.
Dad, having only recently lost his wife, did the best he could to comfort me.
Of course, I knew that anyone who is alive, will one day die. I also knew that my father was not exempt from that. So why did I sob so much? Why did I fear the loss of my father? It was my attachment to dad.
Will dad always be around?
I take dad for granted. I think he will always be around, will always be there to love me, to care for me, to protect me.
But going by how nature works, dad will not always be around. One day he may face an accident, or he may die of natural causes, or he may change into someone I don’t recognise any more. Anything could happen.
What would happen if I reduced my emotional attachment to my father? Would I be free from pain if he is no longer around? I’m not talking about feeling numb, or loving him any less. I’m talking about continuing to enhance the love I have for him, but minimise feelings of anger and emptiness that would arise from eventually losing him.
By taking the time to understand the true nature of reality, I would realise that my father, who was once born, will eventually die. By thinking on this, I would learn to love my father, without being dependent on him being around. I would understand that a strong attachment to my dad is futile, but a bond of love without expectation, would help us have an enriching relationship for the time we have together.
So I continue to ask myself: “Should I reduce attachment to my father? Could I? How?”
If your father is still with you, how would you answer this? If your father is no longer around, what would you ask yourself?
(Photo courtesy of dariuszka)