A Different Kind of Journey
By: JoMarie Grinkiewicz
Writing as: April Star
My father passed away last year on July 12th, my mom’s 87th birthday. We were at his side when God came and took his hands from ours and placed them in His own. My Dad was about to take the journey all of us sojourners can only hope and dream about. That Almighty and Glorious journey. This will be my first Father’s Day without him in the physical world. I know that my spirit is with him in the spiritual world.
The one thing that meant the most to me is that my Dad allowed me, to be me. He allowed me to explore ideas and new concepts. He really could be a good sport. I remember when I was in school and discovered handwriting analysis. He allowed me to analyze him. Of course, I looked for all the ‘bad’ and not good about him.
Another time, when I was studying psychology, again, my Dad was my subject and I only saw the “negative parts of his personality”.
My view of my Dad started to change when, many years ago, I sat down and read the many letters him and my mom wrote between 1938 and 1945. It was then I began to see him, to see both my parents, as my best friends. No longer was he just “Dad,” he was now “my friend.”
When my husband and I hit the road in our RV to travel wherever the jobs were, he never ridiculed us, he just encouraged, advised, and assured us he was there if needed. He said he was proud of me and that I was the “Sunshine of his life.”
It wasn’t until I started to grow up, around age 40, that I started looking at him as a man, not just my Dad. I saw how much he loved my mother, his country, and his children. He showed it by the way he worked, the way he helped, and the way he used his God given talents of painting and drawing. My most treasured possession is a bronze medal my Dad had given me six months before he died. On back of it is inscribed: First place free hand draw. 1936.
“I won this at the Boone County Fair in Harrison, Arkansas,” he said with pride. “I was only sixteen-years old.” Then he smiled and held out his hand to give it to me, “Here, Sunshine. From one artist to another.”
I was choked up as I replied, “Dad, you know I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler. I’m not an artist.”
“I draw with brushes; you draw with words.” He said. I took it home, polished it up, and placed it on a chain to wear around my neck. It has been there ever since. Just as he was always there.
I remember when I sat both my parents down and told them what I didn’t like that they did to me when I was growing up. Things like curfews, not being allowed to date before age 16, not being able to afford things like the other kids. You know the normal children and teen whines. Then I told them what I loved about them. What gifts they gave me. My Dad was the first one who thanked me, and that surprised me because he was never a very demonstrative person. From that day forward, we were a loving father and daughter duo.
As I said before, I was fortunate to make peace with my Dad while he was alive and even more fortunate that we became friends who could talk for hours. Telling each other about our travels and adventures. Me with the stories and experiences of being a full-time RVer, and him traveling the globe, witnessing and living the horrors during World War II. Another prized possession I have that opened my eyes to the spiritual, loving and caring man he was is his war diary and scrapbooks. I saw my Dad as a person, with his own baggage, hopes and dreams. I chose to see the best of my Dad.
My Dad was a wonderful artist, he was a great storyteller, and he was the most hospitable person I ever met. I could bring home anyone, and my father always made them feel welcome and part of the family.
My Dad and I had great conversations about what I was learning on my journey toward personal growth. We talked about the great love story between him and my mother, his life and times as a young boy, and all the new discoveries being made.
What I loved about my Dad, was how he listened without judgment. That is a gift I hope he passed on to me. Another thing I loved most about him, and that I hope becomes a trait in me, is the way he could always see the good in a bad situation. It was him who had made my mother and I laugh by telling jokes and stories during his final days on earth.
Whether your Dad is alive, missing or in the spiritual world, and you don’t have the relationship you want, or didn’t have the relationship you needed. I encourage you to let go of the hurt and anger. You can start the process by appreciating them and by seeing the good. By forgiving any wrong you may feel was done. The forgiveness will be for you, because when you release the anger and the hurt, that’s when there will be room for the love.
Remember, Dad’s are people too; they are like the rest of us. Doing the best we can, looking to connect, love and be loved.
I love you Dad.