Today, February 11th, was my Dad’s birthday. He died many years ago, suddenly, in his sleep at age 64, with no warning of illness.
We had a difficult father-daughter relationship. He and my mother were very unhappily married. So, I’m very grateful that we had the good fortune to start the healing process together, just 8 months before his death.
The healing started when I was in an inpatient treatment center for my binge eating disorder and he agreed to come to a co-patient week, when you get to ask a family member to join in the recovery work. I never thought he’d come. But my therapist at the center said that was not the point. Asking him, using my voice, was what was most important, regardless of the outcome. We didn’t resolve a lifetime of issues that week, but it was a start. He came and completed the week with me. He had to fight to get the time off from his employer. He told one of the other women I was in treatment with that he would have quit his job, if he had had to, to be there for me. He showed up and did the work, which is something he had never done before.
I last saw my father at another family member’s funeral, just 2 days before my father died. We were at the same cemetery on Long Island where his father was buried 28 eight years prior. Dad had not been back to his father’s grave since the day his father was buried. He and his father also had a strained relationship. Dad went to the main office, got directions to my grandfather’s grave, and we went to pay our respects. Standing at his father’s grave, my Dad said, “My God, he was the same age when he died as I am today.” Two days later he, too, died of complete coronary artery disease (they were both smokers). When I hugged my father goodbye at the cemetery, my last words to him before he drove off were, “I love you”. Remembering that still makes me cry…
February 11th is also the anniversary of my step father’s death. How weird is that? He died on the same day of the year when my father was born. Sylvan, my step dad, was in my life for 34 years. He was a lovely man…never heard him say a bad word about another human being—ever! And he adored my Mom, unconditionally, even when she was being impossibly. He also put up with me; a wicked step child, until I was old enough to recognize that he was truly a gift in my life. I loved him very much!
I just wanted to remember them both today…with appreciation for the lessons I learned and the love I felt in both of those key relationships in my life.
To the two dads in my life…wherever your souls and/or energy are today, I’m thinking of you both, with much love, affection, and gratitude…
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in empowering people who are working on emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, email@example.com