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This is my favorite picture of my parents.  I like the way my mom looks on this picture; she reminds me of a movie star from the 30s. But I especially like the way my father looks because the corners of his mouth are turned upward. When I look at the picture I feel like he is not smiling; he is actually genuinely happy, deeply satisfied with something, perhaps with his life.

I remember that when I was younger I also liked the way his hair looked like on this picture because in real life, by the time I was born, he had this peculiar comb-over-blowing-in-the-slightest-breeze — let’s face it — terrible hair style.

I thought of this picture today after talking to my dad on the phone for a couple of minutes.  A couple of minutes: that’s all he can give me before he is out of breath now (it started on Saturday).  He is fading away with each day passing, becoming quiet, becoming quieter, moving towards silence.

I look at his mouth on the picture and I want him to be who he was before I was born.

“Soon,” he said to me yesterday, “I will be with mom where everyone is young and happy.”  My dad is in peace with the dying.  I am not, even though I try to remember a saying by Lao Tzu that reminds me of my dad:

If you realize that all things change, there is nothing you will try to hold on to. If you are not afraid of dying, there is nothing you cannot achieve.

I am trying to hold on to the corners of his mouth turned upward.  I know I can’t but I can’t stop myself from trying.


10 Responses to “Praying for my dad, praying for myself …”

  1. Alesia McManus says:

    You are in my thoughts. What a beautiful post. The Lao Tzu quote really is the essence of things.

  2. What a truly wonderful post. It is memories like that will keep you going when he is gone. Keeping you in my prayers.

  3. Marsha says:

    Stirs up some ancient memories, bitter still, but they are mine. Keep writing about it, Danuta, to preserve those memories, until you just can’t. Love in the time of sadness…is still love.

  4. Diane Rains says:

    Beautifully eloquent. When my brother passed, I realized that in the end you only have love left. My prayers are with you and your family.

  5. Ann Bracken says:

    What a lovely post and a fitting remembrance of your father. You and your family are in my prayers. Anything you need……

  6. Pamela says:

    Danuta – hugs to you…it is not easy to come to terms with this cycle of life, and here you are so many hundreds of miles away. I am praying for you and your family. Hope you can go see him and that smile one more time on this Earth.

  7. Marta says:

    Danusia –
    My heart goes to you. I know how painful are these goodbyes when there is an ocean between us and the beloved ones who are departing to the other side of life. I pray for you and for your dad. He seems to be so ready for heaven, and despite the piercing sadness of your words there is so much peace in your reflection. Would you like to meet with me one of these days? I leave very close to the University of Maryland, and maybe we could have a cup of coffee together? I would like it very much.

  8. Mike Clark says:

    Danuta- There is a rhythm to relationship. It is a dance that continues until the
    band no longer plays. Your father waits to join your mother. He waits for the music to resume. It will remove him from the silence to the celestial rhythms of pure sound. There he will find his life partner, and they will dance. The dance is all we have that matters. His lips will be upturned.

    Keeping you in our thoughts.

    Mike Clark

  9. Nisha Gupta says:

    Dear Danuta,
    This blog of yours is exceptionally moving for me especially the emotions of desperately trying to hold onto moments that seem to have and are escaping our clutches and the feeling of wanting to turn the clock back. As a Buddhist practioner I definitely know that all our karmic relationships of blood and even people we fleetingly encounter are from lifetimes beyond and will be encountered again in what form of course we never know. So the joy in knowing that leaving a close one is a brief adieu till we meet again in another role and if the bonds have been strong they shall take on a strong form yet again.
    So good that I encountered you and your writings while browsing through your blog The house of many buddhas.:)
    All the best and warm regards


  10. Tracie says:

    Danuta, my father is aging, too, although still doing well. Your post brought tears to my eyes because I relate to how you feel. I scanned in a photo of my dad from his army days in the 1940s, and thought similarly to what you said – I wish I had known my father when he was that young man, and yes! if he could be that man again.