Posts Tagged ‘Fatherhood’

Aspirations

3 Braid Bread

Today is the seventh anniversary of my Father’s passing. I have waited seven years for the full impact of his death to hit me. Assuming it would wash over me like a tidal wave, I braced myself for the sudden flood of grief and sadness.

It hasn’t come.

Instead, the initial shock and anger I felt towards the cancer that stole him has been replaced with admiration, wonder, and regret.

Admiration at the courage it must have taken to uproot his young family and move across the world. Wonder at how a humble young Austrian man of modest means could integrate – without assimilating – into Western culture. And regret that I can’t ask him everyday.

My own son is seven years old, born just six months before my Father’s death. I cannot escape the dichotomy of mourning one life withered while rejoicing the blossoming of another. The two occasions are perpetually united; 2003, the year I became a Father and lost my own.

Having survived World War II, my parents were not fleeing any iminent danger in Austria, but rather they had the wisdom to see that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. Whenever I asked my Father about why he chose to leave Austria and come Canada, he would dismiss the question as ridiculous. Although I knew the text book record of World War II,  I could not comprehend the reality of a raveged Europe and  fractured culture. I probably still cant.

To my Dad the answer was obvious:

It was all he could do for his family.

Divided by ocean, generation, and culture, the course of our lives was and is so very different. I am a first generation Canadian, spoiled by the richness this country offers. Like many children of immigrants I carry a self imposed guilt of unearned affluence. In my teens I clashed with my parents because I felt it unfair that I should feel indebted for being born in Canada.

No-one, not my parents or siblings ever thrust this guilt upon me. Rather, It was my reaction to what I interpreted as my parents sacrifice. Since having children of my own, I now understand that parents don’t succumb to sacrifice, they are driven to provide.

Though so different, I am everyday amazed at how similar my Father and I are. And how much more like him I want to be.

It was not until his final days when I rephrased my quesion to “Was it worth it to come to Canada?” that he gave me an answer.

He simply tallied the outcomes. My parents lived comfortably. His children we all healthy, educated, in love, and prosperous. It was not easy, and he never expected it to be.

I understand now that what matters to me is not overcoming the burdern of one’s circumstance, but the resolve to fulfill one’s aspiration.

My Father’s aspiration was to protect his family and produce healthy, educated, happy children.

Thanks to him, I aspire to do the same.

Pictured above; braided challah like my Father taught me to make. This one was made by my son and I.