‘My projects can wait’, I decided. This is a unique opportunity to have a meaningful time with my parents. My dad had put his memoirs on paper, and I decided to edit the text and help him publish a book. My decision turned out to be the right one; we had a worthwhile and important time together!
In the spring of 2014, I read parts of the book “How will you measure your life,” by Clayton M. Christensen. In one of the chapters this Harvard Business School professor shared that he had dropped all his work for half a year to spend time with is sick dad. It turned out to be one of the best decisions of his life.
What is really important?
This story kept hunting me, as if I needed to do something with it. Some time before, I had started editing the memoirs of my father. The work proceeded slowly; I did it in between my busy work schedule. At that time I had started the Business as Mission book project, but after some time, I felt to put that project on the shelf and focus on my parents and my dad’s story. Because, what was really important? Even though my father has no fatal disease, he is 87 years of age. This was a unique opportunity to have some quality time together, so during three Summer months of 2014 I biked up and down from Rotterdam to Papendrecht to spend time with my folks – around my dad’s memoires.
Scratch on my glasses
Large parts of his stories were also “my” stories: my childhood and youth. These were the years that I felt a deep connected with them. This was even more so than other kids growing up with their folks, since I spend my childhood and youth on a river barge, where my mother homeschooled me on board the ship. Only from age 9 until 13 I attended boarding school, and then studied and worked again with my parents on board the ship. Although it was in some ways an isolated life on the ship, without peers, sport and other stuff kids normally grow up with; I did thoroughly enjoy the bond and friendship with my parents. But that bond damaged when I fell in love with my husband: my dynamic and dramatic dad had at that time other ideas about his daughter’s future. I look like him; so my reaction didn’t help either. As a result my ‘glasses got scratched’, in my perception of my parents.
Over the years, our relationship had gone up and down. Even though quite soon my parents grew fond of my husband, our life’s decisions they didn’t always understand. In recent years, our relationship was good and had stabilized. We had all grown older and wiser. Yet, in those quiet summer months, while editing the stories, my awareness grew regarding this ‘scratch on my glasses’ and how that had colored my view of them – that through this scratch I had always kept them at some distance – in a greater or lesser extent. I got insight of an inner pain – tucked away, but present – a pain, which was related to my relationship with my parents.
God led me to this understanding. The editing made me dive deep into the stories, and into my childhood memories. The time set apart helped to get in touch with deeper inner emotional layers. It was as if all circumstances had me focus on this inner process: we were not going on holiday abroad for various reasons and the motor of our small yacht broke down. I stayed home, there was nothing that kept me ‘going’ or ‘busy’.
Prophecy; words of insight
Moreover, I had gained insight through prophetic words of knowledge, given to me half a year before. I had attended a number of Saturdays a prophecy course, led by Arleen Westerhof in Amsterdam. During this time someone had prayed: “Gea, you still have inward pain; it seems neatly tucked away in a box.” Indeed, I knew something of pain was there, but I had no idea where it came from. Neither did I know what to do about it. This same afternoon somebody else shared in prayer: “I have the impression that you should still express something to someone.” Again, I had no idea what to do with that word, and left it for what it was.
That summer, during the editing process, it was if the pieces suddenly fell together and that I had an ‘Aha’ moment. So the next time while visited my parents, I shared with them: “Mom, dad, for years I kept you at a certain distance, because of some of the things that happened in the past. But I see now that I have missed out, because of that. And you have missed out, because I kept you at a distance. I don’t want too. It’s too bad. I have wronged myself and have wronged you.” Only a few words were needed. We understood each other. We hugged in love. The scratch disappeared. Any walls between just evaporated.
It felt like I was coming home, in a deeper way; we re-bonded. It had been good between us, but it is different since we spoke out these things. When visiting my eighty-year-old folks now, these times fill me with joy, gratitude, and gives new energy.
Looking back, I see the hand of God, who helped me gain insight. Who guided to me make time, who closed doors, so I stayed focused on this process. He loves to give us insight into our ‘scratches’, because he loves to restore relationships.
We are never too old to learn!
My dad has a great memory, and eye for details, and a good storyteller. The book is very worthwhile to read, but… only available in Dutch.
“The capriolen van een schipperszoon” (The adventures of a shipping son – only available in Dutch)
€ 12.50 (excl. postage).
If you read Dutch and like to get the book, mail me.
Or mail or call my dad:
+31 -78-078 6412