I can’t believe it, but we are nearing the 4-year anniversary of my dad’s passing and as this day rolls around, I find myself reflecting on my relationship with him and seeing him with a new set of eyes. One of those reflections hit me suddenly the other day – I was 52 years old when I can recall the first time that I felt real compassion from my dad. Let that sink in for a minute……..I’m not saying that it WAS the first time he was compassionate with me, but it was the first time I can remember FEELING compassion from him – I was 52 years old. Growing up, my dad was larger than life, he was tough and no nonsense and about as competitive as they come, and he was also my hero. He was a man who was well respected in both the business sector and the horse industry and seemed to be under a lot of pressure most of the time. He was always very social and generous with his friends. He was a hard worker and believed in giving 100% all the time – he expected that from himself and in turn he expected that from his family. There was no place for sub-standard work ethics where he was concerned. I’m not saying that philosophy was either good nor bad and it certainly served me well throughout my life, but I am saying that sometimes kids just need to be kids. I will also say that a good work ethic is something to pride yourself on (I know I do) and should be taught to our children and I am forever grateful that it was taught to me. I know that a good solid work ethic is one thing my husband and I passed on to our own kids. I always knew that my dad loved me to pieces, but his Love Language and mine were about as different as they could be, particularly when I was growing up – way before I knew what Love Languages were. His Love Language wandered back and forth between Receiving Gifts and Acts of Service, pretty much through most of my life. Where mine has wandered a little more widely and depending on when I am asked (or who is asking) can be anything from Quality Time, Physical Touch and Acts of Service (and I will NOT turn down a gift). If I’m in a particular needy or vulnerable time in my life, whether it be physically with my Multiple Sclerosis or emotionally, I may need Words of Affirmation & Acts of Service more than anything else, it all depends. I feel sorry for my husband, who does his best to try to figure me out especially when there is no rhyme or reason to my love language needs.
Now that our kids are grown up and have moved on with their lives, I find myself with a better understanding of my own parents. As I watch our own kids working through their lives, their jobs, raising kids, going to college, etc. I have realized that my dad was no different than any parents who are in the trenches of those normal events of parenting. I think it was hard for me to have empathy for him as my parents were raising us and after they were divorced, I watched as he tried to move on with his life (which he did – sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully) and still trying to be a father all while he and my mom had nothing good to say about each other, it didn’t matter that we were in the room or that we loved them both and wanted to please them. But the divorce was ugly and it was nasty and unfortunately my brothers and I were caught in the crossfire which meant that there were times we had to choose one parent over the other ultimately hurting one of them with our “selfishness” doing what kids do and wanting to please them both. I think that happens a lot, even to family units that are still intact but, in my opinion, it is something that should be foremost in the minds of parents as it can have a long-lasting impact on kids. My dad went on to find happiness again with our stepmom whom he recognized as saving his life particularly immediately following the divorce, when he was in the deepest despair of alcoholism (as a side note, my dad stopped drinking and was sober for over 35 years by the time he passed away which is no easy feat if you know anything about addiction and I was always in awe of his determination and will power). I don’t ever remember crying in front of my dad growing up although I’m sure I did, but I do remember that he sometimes lacked empathy or compassion for us kids, and for years I felt that he let other factors cloud his responses to us and whether my memory is fuzzy or not, I felt a lot of pressure growing up. That being said, my dad was ill for at least 5 years before he passed away so I was spending a considerable amount of time in Colorado with him and, what I know after spending those 5 years talking about life and our childhood experiences and basically getting to know him again before he passed away, is that he actually was protecting himself and his feelings by detaching from us when it was particularly tough. I think a lot of people do that for self preservation and it was a real eye opener for me who thought that my dad was this tough guy who didn’t ever feel hurt or regret anything he did or said. Those last 5 years with him allowed me the possibility to be able to forgive him and to re-define our relationship and I am so happy that I did it. He was able to tell me how much we did mean to him and how proud of us he was, which I didn’t always feel growing up and was the starting point for a lot of healing for both of us.
I guess the point of this post is to encourage you that it’s never too late for healing – don’t be afraid to take on that task of finding healing for yourself and showing compassion to those who may have hurt you unintentionally. People who have hurt you intentionally is a different ball game and you may have to weigh the pros and cons of finding and / or giving that forgiveness. But whatever route you decide to take, I find reflection is always a good thing and even better when that reflection opens up new possibilities for your own personal growth and / or healing. And if all else fails and you aren’t ready for that, get in that kitchen and whip up these cookies – they are bound to make the journey a little easier!
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
- 1 Cup Butter Melted then cooled (no substitutions here) Salted or Unsalted will work
- 1 Cup Packed Brown Sugar Either light or dark is fine
- ½ Cup Granulated Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs Room temperature
- 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract Pure vanilla extract is recommended
- 1½ Cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 Tsp Baking Soda
- 1 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
- ½ Tsp Salt
- 3 Cups Old-Fashioned Rolled Oats Uncooked
- 1 Cup Raisins
- In the bowl of an electric mixer beat butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until creamy.
- Turn the mixer to low and slowly add flour and oats. Stop mixer and scrape sides. Add raisins and mix until combined.
- While the dough is chilling, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Make uniform balls of cookie dough and put them on the cookie sheet. I like them to be fairly large but if you want smaller cookies, you can do that too, but I say go big or go home. Do not flatten the dough.
- Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes. The top of the cookies will change from 'shiny' to 'matte' when they're cooked in the centre. Watch the edges for the degree of brown or crispness that you want, remember that they will firm up somewhat as they cool.
- Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 4 months.