Blessings - Seen and Unseen…
Just a couple of weeks ago, one of my favorite online business guys posted on Facebook about the terrible relationship he had with his dad.
I felt his pain across the ocean and through time.
He said he was fine without having a relationship with his dad, but he also longed for the pride of a father in his son.
Of course, I thought about my dad and how blessed I was to have this man in my life. As the oldest of 5 children, I think we had a special relationship. But I think my other siblings felt the same way too.
He passed away almost 3 years ago at 91 after 5 years of progressive dementia, multiple heart conditions, diabetes, and other ailments.
Two years into the dementia, he didn’t know my name. He knew he should know it - and recognized me with a smile for a couple more years when I came, but just couldn’t find the words to say my name.
But for all of my years until his dementia, he was my go-to guy. I knew I could get encouragement and understanding from him even if it was delivered sometimes in a ham-handed way.
He was a product of The Great Depression. He was determined that his children would never grow up in the poverty that he experienced, even though his memories of his family occupied most of his stories. With 7 brothers, 5 of whom survived to adulthood, he became the communication hub for the family.
And that’s ironic since, as mom told me this week, dad didn’t know how to use a phone when he left the hills of Kentucky for the Army Air Corps at the age of 17. He sure learned how to use it well later in life keeping in touch with brothers, children, cousins, friends, and distant family.
Dad was very opinionated. Our politics were diametrically opposed. We learned to not talk about that.
But even when he was grumbling, he was looking for a way to help someone. His generosity, kindness, and real caring knew no bounds. He always had enough to share.
He had a ton of sayings that I cherish now because there was so much wisdom and wit in them.
(Don’t judge me, but being who I am, I’m creating an ecommerce store to honor those sayings. It’s just in the beginning stages on Facebook. Like this page and I’ll let you know when it’s ready to rock and roll.)
During his difficulties, I was lucky enough to support him by traveling to Florida every couple of months for 5 years to help my mom take care of my dad. Having an online business that allowed me to work from anywhere as long as I had decent Internet was another incredible blessing.
This week, Charlsa and I visited my mom.
With 5 kids, and 4 sisters and brothers, she gets a lot of attention so we don’t have to worry too much about her. And she’s healthy enough emotionally and physically at 87 to play golf with friends, embrace her church friends fully, and play cards with the best neighbors ever.
The only way I know that she’s slowed down is that she’s stopped working at the Food Pantry for the homeless (too hard on her back).
Life is pretty good for mom.
Living alone after 69 years of marriage isn’t easy, I’m sure, because there has to be a huge hole in her life where dad was. But I’m also convinced he never left because she keeps his memory in every corner of her life.
They were a great love story. And someday, I’ll tell the whole thing, but not yet.
But here’s an example of their love.
When dad was being wheeled into the operating room 7 years before his death to get a pacemaker, my mom stopped the nurse, bent down, and planted a gentle kiss on dad’s forehead. Then, she looked up at the nurse with steely eyes and said, “This is the love of my life for 62 years. You bring him back safely.”
The nurse heard the unspoken words “...or ELSE!” loud and clear. She said, “Yes, ma’am!”
Dad was a veteran. He served in the Army Air Corps and later the newly formed United States Air Force at the end of World War II. One of the benefits he cherished was the honor of being buried with other veterans in a beautiful cemetery.
Mom will be buried there too.
And when Charlsa and I saw how beautifully maintained the cemetery was, we decided to do the same for ourselves since I have that honor too as a Vietnam (era) veteran.
My parents weren’t wealthy, but they had a lot of wealthy friends. They attracted quality people in their lives because they were quality people.
Mom likes to tell a special story about Dad’s wealth.
One of the neighbors came over one day with his investment statement he’d just received in the mail and bragged, “It’s official, Royce. I’m a millionaire.”
“Well, so am I,” my dad said, not to be outdone. “Of course, it’s all invested in my 5 kids, but the dividends are great!”
And he did invest in us.
When I was 15, dad decided I needed to go to Europe on a whirlwind 9-countries-in-21-days school trip because he knew it would be a great experience.
It was $750. And we didn’t have the money, but he found it.
And just like his own experience in Japan after the war, it was a pivotal experience for me that taught me more than any class I’d ever taken or would take.
Travel, it turns out, was THE great educational experience.
Money was especially tight then because when I was 9, my mom’s dad killed himself leaving her brothers and sisters without any living parents. My grandmother had died two years previously of lung cancer.
My aunts and uncles (mom’s brothers and sisters) were 12, 15, 18, and 20. I was the oldest of three with two more showing up in the next two years, and soon to be the middle of nine kids..
That could have been an unbelievably difficult time for any family. And frankly, most would have split up the four aunts and uncles to other families.
Dad wouldn’t hear of it.
Of course, they would come live with us. We’d make room. And tighten our belts. And find a way.
We always found a way.
A few weeks ago, we were at dinner with a couple of friends who bowed their heads to say grace. I heard them say, “Dear Lord, thank you for all our blessings. Seen and Unseen. Amen.”
Seen. And Unseen.
If I would go back through this article with a red pen to mark all the things that were unseen blessings, the page would look like a bloody murder had been committed here.
Red ink everywhere.
As I get older, I’m so thankful for the unseen blessings in my life. Unseen blessings are those things I don’t see or think about, but are continuing to work in my favor. If I demanded to know about all my blessings all the time, I’d short-change myself.
Three beautiful kids. Ten grandchildren that I don’t see nearly enough. And the most amazing supportive and loving wife/partner anyone could have.
And if I look at all the “problems” in my life over the past 70 years, I can’t find one. They all look like blessings at this point.
The unseen blessings are a hundred times more important to me than those I see everyday. They are the blessings that protect me (mostly from myself) and bring me good.
And I want all the good.
But I have to be careful about good and bad.
Years ago, I read a translation of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu, and one line stuck with me.
“There is no good or bad, but labeling it makes it so.”
I’ve stopped judging whether something is good or bad. Whatever happens can be comfortable or uncomfortable, peaceful or challenging, rewarding or heartbreaking.
Those are momentary feelings.
But declaring it good or bad would mean that I can predict the future. I can’t. Good or bad is the result of something happening now. If I try to assign good or bad, I’m not living in the moment, so I’ll miss all the sweet juice of life.
Of course, I can impact the result by doing what I think will lead to a good or bad result, but I have no way of predicting the outcome.
For that, I must rely on the greatest gift of all…Unseen Blessings.
If you have Unseen Blessings that you're grateful for click one of the share buttons on the side of the page and comment below to tell me about your unseen blessings!
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