With Father’s Day around the corner, it makes me reflect on the fact that I’m now an orphan.
It’s particularly difficult when you see others around you being able to celebrate these important days with their parents, definitely feeling left out.
My mum passed away in 1987 and my dad in 2011 so it’s been quite a while since I’ve felt truly anchored within a family, other than my own.
The loss of your parents brings about a wide range of emotions, including sadness, anger, confusion, and fear.
The sense of abandonment and feeling adrift without the guidance and unconditional love that parents provide is the most difficult aspect of becoming an orphan.
It also triggered feelings of loneliness and isolation, as the people who were supposed to be the pillars of support and connection are no longer there.
The simple fact that I can’t have one more conversation with either of my parents or introduce them to their grandkids (Zach and Sam) or spend with them makes me sad.
It’s also the ongoing and constant reminders (Mothers/Father’s Day and birthdays) that you’re different than many others in that you don’t have these important people in your life to celebrate with.
No longer do you have a home base, or a place of familiarity from your childhood… only memories!
As my brother-in-law Max always says, “it’s not the place that makes it special, it’s the memories”.
He’s right of course, however with each passing year these memories begin to fade so that you get to a point in your life where you only have snippets of the life you once lived.
They also remind us of a simpler time… when we were kids and had the world at our feet. We just didn’t know it at the time.
This Father’s Day, for the first time in many years I’ll get a chance to spend with Zach – such a lovely surprise!
It’s days like this that bring home to me that my family is spread to the four winds…
With Sam finishing her fifth and final year of her undergraduate degree at the University of Waterloo just outside Toronto (Canada) and Zach finishing his Master’s degree at the Australian National University in Canberra (Australia) it’s difficult for us to all be together in one place at one time.
I’m hoping that once she finishes her degree this time next year, that she’ll spend some time in Australia recuperating from her hectic five-year course and contemplating her future.
At least time to take a breath.
That being said Zach is finishing his master’s degree this November and been applying to Doctorate programs in the United States.
This will likely see him move back to North America sometime within the next year or so…
His dream has always been to become a history professor and I’m sure with his drive and passion he’ll make that happen irrespective of what school he finds himself in.
Father’s Day is one of those inflection points in life that make us stop and take stock of where we are in our lives.
I realize how incredibly fortunate I am to have a loving wife and smart, independent children in addition to living a life I’d always dreamed of.
Each aspect makes me incredibly proud.
Perhaps the loss of my parents at an early age prompted me to take a different approach to life. Without this anchor I had to make decisions for myself, without guidance or support and go it alone.
I don’t mean to sound harsh, but definitely fell less encumbered worrying about my parents as they aged and required help than many of my peers and contemporaries do.
I was able to live my life, for good or for bad my way.
Another aspect was that I was also separated physically from my siblings as I was living in Canada for much of the past three decades.
This definitely build up my confidence and self-reliance.
Also, the emotional independence and freedom to choose a life that suited me was vital to my personal growth. I didn’t have to have any difficult conversations with my parents about how I chose to live my life or how I spent my money.
My mum would have flipped out if she’s have seen all of the money I’d spent on travel over the years. She was always worried about my sense of adventure and impulsiveness.
Like most parents their hearts were in the right place but would have been clear that they didn’t approve of me spending so much on “gallivanting” (her words not mine!) around the world.
It was a different time and so they had differing points of view than we do today. Perhaps I may have been surprised and they may have been okay with the life I’ve chosen to live.
I find it interesting how these special days encourage me to reflect even more than I normally do…
How about you?
Until next week