Ancestors

“If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Growing up as I did, I never got to know much about my family history. An uncle once told me that there wasn’t anything to know and that I came from a long line of murderers and horse thieves. He had an odd concept of “nothing to know.” Maybe that was just the romantic in him that was talking.

This has been a year of reflection in some ways. Along those lines, since both of my parents are gone I’ve done some thinking about them and the fact that I will be the end of that line. I’ve always said that I’m a walking contradiction and I think the reasons for that become clear when I contrast my parents. A few times this year I’ve tried to write something about that but I haven’t found a way to do it that doesn’t come off as cliché and melodramatic. Suffice to say I was lucky enough to have two parents who loved me even if I was never very close to either of them since the age of 13.

I think the strangest thing about them being gone is that I no longer have the thought that someone might be proud of me. I lived my own life, but as distant as we were at times, I still wanted them to be proud of the person that I was.

Like the quote above, I see both of my parents reflected in myself. There’s both good and bad in that. Strained relationships aside, I would not be here without my Mom or Dad. To them I owe everything. It’s up to me to separate the good from the bad and move on.

Back to the quote. In it I see a lesson about loss, and missing those that are gone. It is a lesson that I can relate to. I miss my Dad, but then I suppose I’ve missed him most of my life. No big change there other than the loss of any possibility of things getting better. I wish that my Mom hadn’t died when I was at a low point which seemed to break her heart as much as it did mine. I was able to see better days. She wasn’t. I’ve wondered about missing her though. I’ve wished over the years that I could introduce a few people to my Mom. I still do, but when I think about missing her, all I can think of is this:

I don’t have to miss her. She is a part of me.

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