Friday, August 20, 2010

A provocative legacy

My father passed on Monday, August 16, 2010. Two of my siblings and I were with him when he passed. It was poignant and meaningful to be part of his transition at his death. I wrote about his decline and shed some light on the relationship I had with my father and on how I reached my tipping point in several recent posts. Any one of you who have had a tumultuous and dysfunctional childhood and youth, will know that the death of a parent is cause for much rumination. And with three other siblings, you can only imagine how the stage is ripe for all kinds of emotional stirrings and conflicts. Each of us siblings has their own perspective on their childhood, youth and of course adulthood and each of us have our own wounds to heal in regards to our parents.

Well, I am writing here to tell you that the four of us made it through this difficult period in our lives in spades and with a far greater respect for the lives and history of each other. We have shared in an experience that has brought each of us a whole host of feelings including pain, loss, anger, relief, joy, frustration, sadness and disappointment. Each of us spoke at my father’s funeral. The words were all heartfelt, sincere and emotional. Here is a partial text of what I said:

Not an easy man to like let alone love. But, he has left quite a legacy (all of us) and for that we are all grateful. No matter what his shortcomings were, there were some moments and elements of tenderness to the people who bore his name throughout his life. We are all grateful for the life we have been given through him and our mother. Our lives: a remarkable gift and the greatest gift he could possibly give.

Finally, a few words to my siblings: Chris, Steve and Jeff: Sharpening the tools left to us by the machinist closest to us.

Our splintered past, childhood and youth were not our fault. We have survived our background to be remarkable, productive and contributing members of the world. It is now up to each of us to heal our wounds, forgive each other and our parents for their shortcomings as we embrace with kindness, understanding and yes love, the remarkable and unique individuals that we all are. We are now the legacy of our parents. We may not have had all the tools we needed to equip us into our adult lives, but we have the power now to sharpen our set of tools and to understand our past for what it was and how it shaped us and to move beyond as empowered and complete siblings and human beings. In the Lord’s prayer it says: And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. We have been trespassed against, it is up to each one of us to move beyond our trespasses and use our sharpened tools to take on our own legacies. I love you all very much.

I share these thoughts with you all, my blog readers and followers, because they are part of my journey to better health. You know from reading my tipping point post above that some of my own disordered eating history is rooted in remarks by my father to me during my youth and early adulthood. I will spare you the details of what was said and done from the past. What is important is that I am moving beyond my splintered youth and young adulthood and finding understanding of why I do the things I do around eating and with my weight. I am taking ownership of how critical and demeaning comments and actions contributed to my own denial of my weight and of course a negative body image. In so doing, I am beginning to forgive those (my parents) who have trespassed against me. I am learning to love myself and to be kind to myself. During these past 10 days, even I was sometimes amazed at my growing capacity to be calm and keep my feet on the ground (my siblings may disagree here!). I did not binge. I did not turn to food to soften my emotional upheaval. For the most part, I ate and drank sensibly and reasonably. I recognize that I was over my caloric budget each day, and I forgave myself for doing so. I am ready to continue my journey to good health.

Finally, thank-you all for your kind words of support during this very intense time leading to my father's passing. I shared your comments and supportive words with my family, too. Have a great and satisfying week end! Michele


  1. Yit-gadal v'yit-kadash sh'may raba b'alma dee-v'ra che-ru-tay, ve'yam-lich mal-chutay b'chai-yay-chon uv'yo-may-chon uv-cha-yay d'chol beit Yisrael, ba-agala u'vitze-man ka-riv, ve'imru amen.
    Y'hay sh'may raba me'varach le-alam uleh-almay alma-ya.

    Yit-barach v'yish-tabach, v'yit-pa-ar v'yit-romam v'yit-nasay, v'yit-hadar v'yit-aleh v'yit-halal sh'may d'koo-d'shah, b'rich hoo. layla (ool-ayla)* meen kol beer-chata v'she-rata, toosh-b'chata v'nay-ch'mata, da-a meran b'alma, ve'imru amen.

    Y'hay sh'lama raba meen sh'maya v'cha-yim aleynu v'al kol Yisrael, ve'imru amen.

    O'seh shalom beem-romav, hoo ya'ah-seh shalom aleynu v'al kol Yisrael, ve'imru amen.

  2. Dear Allan,
    Thank-you so very, very much for sharing this with me. For those of you who do not know (and I had to look it up), Allan's comment is the
    The Mourners' Kaddish. Here it is in English. Blessings, Allan

    The Mourners' Kaddish
    Magnified and sanctified be G-d's great name in the world which He created according to His will. May he establish His kingdom during our lifetime and during the lifetime of Israel. Let us say, Amen.

    May G-d's great name be blessed forever and ever.

    Blessed, glorified, honored and extolled, adored and acclaimed be the name of the Holy One, though G-d is beyond all praises and songs of adoration which can be uttered. Let us say, Amen.

    May there be peace and life for all of us and for all Israel. Let us say, Amen.

    Let He who makes peace in the heavens, grant peace to all of us and to all Israel. Let us say, Amen.

  3. Mourning is universal, peace be with you...

  4. What a beautiful thing you wrote. How wonderful to have that kind of closure and understanding on such a painful part of your life. I am sorry for your loss. I will be thinking of you.

  5. Michelle,

    I have been so out of touch and behind with reading. Am so sorry about your father. What a wonderful statement to your maturity that you were able to put past pain behind you and memorialize his death with respect. Those were beautiful words.

    Take care of you in the coming days.


  6. Dear Dr. FTF and Sharon,
    Thank-you so much for your kind words. I appreciate them very much. Michele