Friday, October 25, 2013

Together in Spirit.

Like the ocean that remains calm in its depths even when waves rage over its surface, and like the sun that continues shining on high even during storms, we can at each moment create value and develop our state of life, enjoying our existence to the fullest in times of both suffering and joy. -- Daisaku Ikeda

Me and my father.
Today is my father’s 81st birthday. Tonight we will have cake in his honor, and chant for his enlightenment and eternal happiness.

In my earliest memories, mother and I would bid father goodbye at the train station as he left on his business trips. Fearing that he wouldn’t return, I would cry and beg him not to leave. Seeing me cry would always make mother cry. Thus, it was a happy reunion when father returned home. When he passed away over three years ago, I used to imagine that he would walk through the front door and announce that he was home. I would also visit places we used to frequent, and hoped that he would appear. It took awhile to get used to the reality that he was no longer here.

My father was a kind, sincere man. He came from a family of six boys, and he was very pleased when I was born. A doting father, he encouraged me to pursue all my interests. I was fortunate to have had many opportunities because of my father, and the best way I can show my gratitude is to live the happiest, most contributive life.  

Looking back, I think about the hardships father must have faced as an immigrant in the U.S.  Early years were filled with financial instability. Being a Japanese man, he was not in the habit of expressing worries and frustrations, and I never realized the depths of his struggles. Regardless of difficulties, father made sure we had everything we needed.

As my father aged, he grappled with various health conditions along with vascular dementia.  As an effect of the dementia, father became openly emotional and no longer held back his tears. For example, I remember thanking him for being such a wonderful father. Hearing my words, he was overcome with emotion and started to cry.

Although the latter years were challenging, my father and I had the opportunity to spend lots of time together. This was a rare gift, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. These days, I believe that my father is with me in spirit. Knowing this makes me feel braver as I strive to overcome life's challenges.

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