February Morning

Morning, quiet, dark, solitary has been my favorite time of day since I had kids.  

Sometimes it would be just me and my baby, nursing, quietly in a chair, my eyes focused on this miracle at my breast, so tiny and vulnerable and my heart would clinch tight and an immeasurable sadness would grip my heart.  Why, I’d think to myself, did I feel so sad?  Why didn’t I feel joy?

And I can only say because the moment was so damn full of love that, being who I am and how I entered this world, the same emotion touched a deep and unhealed void; some immeasurable loss and longing inescapably linked to great love.

As my children grew and my business took more of my time, I got up earlier and earlier.  

Sometimes it was because I needed to go to work early, other times it was because it was the only calm time in the day.  Mostly it was because it was quiet and solitary and I could hear myself think.  Sometimes it was just because my anxiety would not let me sleep.

Raising children is not an easy feat, and I must admit I failed them time and time again.  I was too young and too scared and simply too reactionary to be a great Mom, despite my love and intention for their wholeness. I was not whole myself.

I guess I can be grateful that two out of three of them have forgiven me and despite their childhood wounds, want to share my life and know me as I am today.

One does not, and because he was the first and it was so completely crazy, and he felt (and was) unprotected from his Father and my chaos, he has every right to be angry.

What breaks my heart is that he is so angry that he cannot feel his fear and move through it.  Some pain is just too early, and too deep.  The irony is that we share the same pain and are separated by it.

As I write this cold winter morning, before the sun is up and there is only dark silence, I am grateful for this time- the peace and the solitude.

It is now that I practice compassion for myself and for this day and for the people and situations that I will encounter.  It is here that I give thanks for all that is good in my life and all that I am learning and have to learn.  It is here that I remember that every breath is a gift and time is fleeting and today is the only day I have.

It’s humbling, this immense joy and I need to let myself open to receive it.

Breath in, Breath out, Breath out. Let go.

The Case for Daddy’s Girls

I am a Daddy’s girl; always have been.

That’s because I got lucky; the Universe paired me with Ehret Oscar Ramey to be my counselor, teacher, mentor, protector, and friend.  Ehret Ramey was my adopted Father.

As a child, he had curly hair, and his lower income family moved a lot which made him vulnerable to teasing and bullying.  He learned to fight at an early age, which knowing him as I do, must have been hard because his inherent nature was so gentle. I suppose those fights helped define who he was and who he wasn’t because as my Father, he never chose a fight, but also never stepped away from defending what he believed was right.

And what he thought was right for me, usually was.

I wasn’t exactly an easy kid, and being the only daughter, I know he worried and was disappointed by a lot of my choices. But he never judged me or ignored me or made me feel less than or ashamed; he was always there when I finally came home with whatever I needed; a kiss to my forehead, a long hard embrace, words of love, or, no words at all.

My Dad was my champion and I always knew that.  That changes a person. 

I liked to run away when I was a kid to assert my Autonomy and Independence. One time I “ran away” to a Young Life Skating Party. When my Dad picked me up and discovered his 12-year-old was drunk, he took me to the hospital where he worked, cleaned me up in the Doctors lounge, and bought me a toothbrush.  He said I’d better brush my teeth, stay away from alcohol and not to inform my Mother of my escapades.  There were a few things we agreed not to tell Mom.

My parents were married for over 60 years, something I both admire and am amazed by.  My Father chose a difficult woman to love and I often wondered how in the world he could not only love her but completely adore her.

I thought my Mother was insane but he was unconcerned, and in retrospect, his example of loving another human has provided something like a wellspring for me: a spring that I dip in when I am feeling particularly empty myself.

My Dad was handsome.  My Dad was accomplished.  My Dad was a man of service and his word.  My Dad was a teacher, a physician, a friend, and caretaker to all.  He loved to sing and dance and tell horrible jokes,
(and I mean B A D jokes). But he would get so tickled telling his own stupid jokes that you finally had to give in and laugh along with him, dreading the punchline all the same.

He also liked to make things in his wood shop when he retired when he was still able to, before he had his stroke.

After the stroke, it was my turn to give back to my Father and I am here to tell you it was my great pleasure.  It wasn’t always easy, (I used to call him Dr Magoo when I was at the end of my rope); loving him so, it could also be heartbreaking.

Once when I took him to the movies, we were ordering a coke and he couldn’t get the words out, grasping the Coca-Cola display cup with a death grip and just be mumbling to me.  I knew what he was trying to say and gently tried to pry the cup out of his hands as the fountain jerk (and I do mean jerk), just stared at us.   I wanted to tell everyone, “You don’t know this man- you don’t know how brilliant and kind and loving he is!  How many lives he’s touched- how many lives he brought into this world…” but instead we went in and sat down and watched the movie which made my Dad laugh a lot, and that made me feel better, too.

As I said, my Dad was a gentle soul and as a parent always treated us kids with respect even when we were clearly over the line.  I can only remember two instances when my Dad lost it and both times it was because my older brother or I said something disrespectful to our Mother.

The slap I’d never seen coming stung much more than my face; the lowest place I could ever inhabit was the one called disappointing my Father.  I burst into tears as he pulled me to him.  That only made it worse.  You can see, I still remember.

So, today on Father’s Day, I celebrate my Father, E.O. Ramey, and all the other wonderful Fathers that I know.  

What a blessing to be a Daddy’s girl because that means you were taught how to be loved deeply and completely by a wonderful, caring man.

Thank you, Dad.  I miss you.  I sure do.

Happy Father’s Day Dad from Tina Sprinkle on Vimeo.