June 12, 2007
A Daughter's Love for Her Father
During our annual self-reflection course, we were fortunate to have a father enrolled along with his two adult daughters who now had their own families. One of them, Alexandra, was living in Argentina. During the course, each of the adult daughters, Christina and Alexandra, posted their Naikan reflection about their father on his birthday. As they reflect on their father, we feel not only the sense of gratitude they have for the love their father offered to them as children. But we also get a sense of how this type of reflection can create an atmosphere of love and appreciation in a family. Instead of getting caught in a web of criticism and condemnation, we see and begin to truly appreciate the unique way that our family members, particularly our parents, have made our lives possible. Here is Christina’s reflection:
Today, November 8th, is my father's birthday and I want to list some of Life's moments that I have had with him that I cherish...
The walks along the beach at night in Amagansett singing songs from Finnian's Rainbow. The camp outs we had under the stars in Vermont. The amazing canoe trip to the Finger Lakes. My love of nature comes from those times.
Helping you with whatever chore. Weeding, cleaning out the apartments in Vermont, raking the endless leaves, recaulking a window. You taught me to take care of my stuff and to do a little bit everyday.
You reading me Oscar Wilde. Taking me to the ballet. Going on trips all over the world on Mom's standby airplane tickets, wanting us children to eat with you parents because you thought we were interesting. Thank you for instilling a desire in me to learn and read and discuss.
You being the first to come when my daughter Carrie was born 10 weeks early. The picture I have is your large hand holding her tiny one. Thank you for so often being there when I have needed to talk to you.
For having your grandaughters come and stay with you during the weeks in the summer. Feeding them, talking to them, playing with them, letting them mess up your stuff. They have fond memories of their times in Vermont.
You called me the other day and apologized for not being there enough for me when I was a teenager. I want to thank you for the many, many times you have been there for me, as a baby, as a child, as a teenager, as a young woman, as a mother, through my divorce, and relationships and remarriage, I feel so blessed that there is no doubt that you are there for me and that is such a gift. I have recently learned that Love and Respect can never be demanded, they can only be given. Thank you for having given me so very much. As I write these memories I see anew the life of real privilege I have had because of you.
I love you, Christina
Now, here is Alexandra’s reflection:
I thank my sister for sharing what our father has given her and inspiring me to write before his birthday ends.
You have given me the name Pappi which I have always loved, you have given me your love of nature, our walks, always long ones, down the Sugarbush mountain in summer, skiing with you so quickly through the Glades of Sugarbush, trying to ski like you when I was eight and then suddenly one day, with your patience, my snow plow transformed into a beautiful vadle. You gave me your friend, Gerry, and the laughter of yodeling with him down the mountain; you gave me the cold of the mountain and how to endure what was difficult; you gave me two full days of skiing every weekend, all winter, with the long drive from New York City; you gave me sports -- how I loved to learn golf with you, to walk on the golf course early in the morning when the dew was still there and we would see a rabbit. How I loved your clubs. You gave me the hours of playing tennis together in Vermont, and later when I lived in California, how wonderful it was to play with you. You gave me swimming -- showing us how to love water, and your dives and flips were so beautiful. You gave me persistence as I raced in the Sugarbush Inn pool and could see you next to the pool rooting me on. You gave me the world of the piano taking me to Mrs. Battista when I was seven for the first time and bought me a different piano for every home we lived in. You gave me a way to organize my time on a sheet of white paper so that I could practice six hours a day in summer and two during the school year. You gave me my love of writing -- reading to me first your father’s stories from his brown leather bag and later your own. You gave me your mother Mama Licha and her dog Chamba whose independence passed into me. You gave me weekends alone with her on Bedford Street in the village when I was four and the basis of a friendship between grandmother and granddaughter that would grow stronger with the years. You gave me your companionship on the boat Minot’s Light in the middle of the Baltic Sea when the first man landed on the moon and we toasted the moment. You gave me your love of dancing and how you loved to lead me when we danced together in our 81st Street apartment. You gave me your doubts and questions about how a marriage should be and today, when I felt sad and cried twice, I wanted to call you and be comforted by you. I intuited it would be better for the Naikan approach to thank the tears for appearing, feel the pain of the moment, receive another´s hurtful words and not try to hurt another back but really see the orange trees and the laundry I was taking off of the line which was something else you gave us -- a clothes line you hung in Vermont. At our home, you built Nicky a tree house and we slept out doors in your green army sleeping bag and toasted marshmallows. You gave us the shooting stars as we sat on the deck at night. And the sound of the birches and pines in the wind -- a sound that will always be my childhood. You gave me a beautiful crib you made out of wood for my dolls and the way you could make new walls and really make anything we needed. You gave us strength, creativity, the ability to make do with whatever you had. You gave us your hard work. You gave us your Mexican and British heritage and the desire in me to bridge both worlds. You gave me a brother and two sisters and I don’t remember any fighting when we were little. You gave us a sense of being a team. You gave us your laughter and your loud sneezes and watchful eyes in all of my performances in Boston and the way your vision zoomed on me when I lost my finger on stage and didn’t say ouch but finished the last moment of the play. You and Joyce cleaned every inch of our apartment. You gave me your companionship on the first day of Sarah Lawrence College and your interest in my courses. And later in Iowa City, living alone and pregnant with my fourth child, and with my family in Argentina trying to begin a doctorate, you gave me a sense of still being young and that everything was possible. You have been a wonderful father, Pappi. I love you.
Here is the father’s response to Alexandra’s Naikan on him . . .
Alexandra, Alita, my dear first born,
My God, talk about reflecting, your memories of our growing up together remind me of what an extraordinary life we have shared. With tears pouring down I red your tribute to me and to our many moments together. What great times we shared. And I thank you from the bottom of my heart for writing of our times together as it is sometimes so easy to forget what joy we have shared, and some pain too. You know what I remember so well -- that you were so tenacious in everything you did. The piano, schooling. skiing and so much more. Thanks for reminding me of so much. I better go get another handkerchief.
And to his youngest daughter, Christina,
One of the most rewarding aspects of this Naikan forum is its emphasis on reflections. My daughter, in her birthday thoughts of me has me reflecting on the joy which parenting can bring. My little baby, now no longer a child, is always in my minds eye -- my little baby.
Your reflections on our many times together were wonderful.
I love you,