Peeling Back the Layers

I spent A LOT of time just trying to be noticed as a child. I am the youngest kid in my family by 6 years – and the only child of my parents’ union. I was chubby, athletic, and obnoxious in my quest for attention, my quest for acceptance, my quest to feel loved.

This summer I sat with my dad for days while he transitioned to his “next adventure” in a beautiful hospice facility called Marley House. In the time he slept, I went through box after box of files from the last 50 years of his life. Most of the boxes contained the basic old financial statements, or funny clips I’m sure he thought he would come upon one day for another chuckle.

Every so often, I came across a nugget – some glimpse into my father’s life that revealed a new layer about him. There were the papers that he saved from the divorce where my parents fought over custody for me, and then how much he would have to pay. There were the papers the same year as the divorce showing he took three months off of work to convalesce because of his depression.

Each paper revealed another layer of my father’s love for me. Each paper revealed how much he fought himself to stay healthy. Each paper revealed to me how hard life became for my dad after his divorce – how he worked to redeem himself not only in his eyes, but in mine as well.

While I spent my childhood days trying to get noticed by him, by my siblings, by anyone who would pay attention, my dad struggled. I thought I had to be more: louder, more funny, more athletic, more intellectual, more beautiful, more skinny…more.

As an adult with my own child and family, I work to get off the carnival ride of more. And what I realized sitting next to his bed at Marley House is that I was ALWAYS enough in his eyes – I didn’t need to be more. Although I could not see it, I was deeply loved. I was loved unconditionally – it was all right there the whole time – I just thought it looked differently than it does in my family.

My dad did his best to love me, to nurture me…to notice.