Forgiving our Fathers
In 1979 I headed off to find a woman I thought was a sex goddess. I would do ANYTHING for this woman, and that was the basis of our relationship. She had said that she was meeting up with her gf and would be staying in a house in Northern California (what WAS that town?!)
I tracked down the woman who owned the house, got the location and headed for Willits California (I knew I could remember it!)
I was working, in Toronto, as a bike courier, one of the first in the city. I had shaved my head into a mohawk and friends delighted in painting the sides of my head, using water colours. Every time it rained I wept colourful tears.
I had a sailor's cap that I wore, brim down while working, brim up other times (I do burn quite easily, so protection was critical.)
When I headed off to find JZ, in Willits, I set off across Canada in a car with a friend. It was one of those drive-away deals where someone moves and hires someone else to drive their car to the new city. I did most of the driving, even though I wasn't licenced. By Regina, I was crazy. I was travelling with a woman and her Italian gf. The gf couldn't speak English and I have no Italian, but we could both manage a smattering of French. But, and big but it is, every time I tried to talk to the Italian gf, the other woman would pull over and cry that we weren't supporting her in her driving. Okay, we won't talk. Nope, too late, she can't concentrate to drive. So, I'd slip into the driver's seat and take over. While I was driving, she would talk, in Italian, with her gf.
One night, exhausted, I tried to pass a truck. I had the car in cruise control, my feet tucked up on the seat, and bleary eyed (I couldn't have the radio on because my passengers were sleeping and the radio disturbed them.) On the prairies you can see for miles. I pull out, the way is clear. I leave the car in cruise and start to overtake the truck. When I'm about half way along, a truck appears out of nowhere. The first hill I'd seen in days. The guy I'm passing pulls over to the right, I follow until I'm straddling the line. The other guy pulls over and we pass with inches to spare into each other's histories. I hadn't dared move a muscle through it, so I was still tucked up like a Buddha in the driver's seat.
Shortly afterwards, I pulled over and shaking, I crawled out of the car and rolled in the gravel. The pause woke my passengers and I announced that we were going nowhere for a while. I had almost killed us, and I was terrified.
The next day, I had the woman give me back the money I had fronted her for the car and I hopped a bus. I bought a 1 week ticket to take me to California, and I headed south.
I breezed through the border. Wandered to Pheonix, then Tuscon, then on to California. Visited around and then made my way to Willits, hitched up to the house in the hills, and waited. And waited.
After a couple of days, I ran out of food and I had no money. The food I had was compliments of the women I'd met along the way.
A couple of weeks went by and I started back into town. Exhausted I had to drop everything and rest. I hid my stuff and headed back to the house. I slept and when I returned, all my belongings were gone. Including a first edition Vita Sackville-West Biography of St. Joan of Arc, and my guitar.
I wandered on into Willits. I wandered northward. Ran into problems in Cresent City. Headed south. Landed in San Fran. Called my father, collect. He lost his temper with me. He didn't know anything that had happened, I hadn't spoken to him in years. All I told him was that I was sort of stuck in San Fran and I couldn't get my money in Toronto. He was broke and was working full time as well as running a farm. Tough times all around.
When he hung up, I did some calculations and during the day, while he was at work, I used his phone number to make arrangements with friends in Toronto to bail me out. I have no idea what the bill came to. At the time, righteous indignation carried me through. Plus the belief that children have that their parents have and should provide what is wanted and needed (which are often confused to be the same thing.)
A couple of years later, I called and apologized. I sent him money. He wouldn't tell me how much the bill was. I sent what I could afford (not much.)
He never mentioned it again.
How can we forgive our fathers? Forgive them for being human? Flawed? Compassion. Start with ourselves, forgive ourselves our foolishness and it becomes easier to forgive others. I was fortunate in that my father and I were close and had resolved so many issues (not easily.) I hang onto the day my father phoned me, out of the blue, and apologized for any hurt he may have caused me, it was unintentional he said.
How could I not forgive him?
© copyright, 1999, WandaJane Phillips