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Father’s day – a special message

This past weekend we again celebrated a special day dedicated to all the dads out there. It is a day where we show that special guy how much we appreciate his love, support and well just being there for us. The same as we acknowledged and celebrated Mother’s day last month.

When we celebrate these special days, I sometimes wonder just how much of the real meaning of these do we carry in our hearts.  Over the past few years it has become so commercialised that I think we lose the real meaning.

I ask the question the from time to time, shouldn’t every day we live and share a life with a mother, father or a loved one be treated as a special day?  The reason for my path of thought here is simple.

Back in 1992 I stood next to the open grave of a parent, the day I buried my father. That day when we covered the casket with soil I buried a part of myself with him. I buried the me who always just took my dad being around for granted. I buried the boy who felt he never once showed my dad just really how much I loved him. And there that day it was too late.

And that guilt I carried with me for years. And each Father’s day that followed the other, the guilt just grew stronger, until I made peace with it. How many of us out there carry guilt like this with us? And have you ever sat back and thought just how much damage it is doing to your life that you are living? How does that influence the way you treat your own children?

Now today, years later, I am a grown man. I have faced the guilt demons and made peace with them. And I was also lucky to be in a position where I was given a second chance to value and appreciate a father figure in my life when my mom was remarried.

Then, almost a month ago, I was faced with emotional challenges again in this respect. My stepfather fell very ill. And even though I am hundreds of kilometres away from my folks, I was driven by an urge to make my way to go see him. And yes, it was sad and painful, standing next to his hospital bed and seeing him so ill. And the reality of the day was that he didn’t even recognize me at first. See, he has been diagnosed with full blown dementia now. And it broke me to pieces to see that once independent man I knew lying there in bed.

And when I had to leave again to come back home, and I went to say goodbye, and the reality is that most probably was my last goodbye I would ever say to him, he took my hand and kissed it and said “I love you”. That moment I will carry with me for always.

Now again, this past weekend, when Father’s day was celebrated, I did make the call home, but even though he was back at home, in his mind he was in a wonderful fantasy world of his own where he knows no suffering nor pain. So yes, how many times do we miss out on these simple “I love you” moments when we can still relate to those we love?

This is why I feel that every day we are able to share with a loved one, being a mom, dad, husband, wife, should be treated as a special day to appreciate and love them. And it does not always involve gifts.  Spending time together, doing things together just being there for each other are all gifts in their own nature.

Most of all show them you love and care for them while you still can. When that special is person gone or even like my stepfather who is with us in body but somewhere lost in his own world in his mind, it is too late. Do not wait for one special day in a year to come, because that special day might just come too late.

Author: Philip J Nel

Short bio: The author contributes articles to websites as a guest writer and specialises in the following topics: life’s trials and tribunals, people and their stories, animals, nature and religion. He is also a proud cancer survivor and that has also taught him more about life. The author started writing at the age of 16 and has written several poems, short stories and even a novel.

Contact details: Email address pjnel@polka.co.za

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