My father, Morry Miller, was only 21 years old when this Air Force photo of him was taken. During World War II he captained over 35 missions in the dangerous South Pacific with the famous (and infamous) heavy, unsafe B-24 bomber that was prominently featured in the movie “Unbroken” several years ago. My dad returned from the War a small town hero in his native Redlands, CA.
He also returned a strict disciplinarian to his unwitting three year old son–me. Growing up, our relationship was never easy. It seemed that whatever I accomplished in school or sports was never good enough for him. When I received A-s and B+s, I was greeted with “why didn’t you get A’s?” When I got a hit in a little league baseball game, he wanted to know why I didn’t get more.
As I began to sprout my wings as a teenager and young adult, we constantly battled, and his punishment of choice was not to speak to me for sometimes months at a time. I questioned whether he loved me because I never heard, “I love you Danny.” My mother always assured me that he did, but that didn’t convince me.
But this Father’s Day, I choose to honor my father (who turns 97 today!), to love and admire him–and to accept him as he is, even though he remains very judgmental. Why? Because very simply, I know that he did the best he could as an extremely young father with limited parenting tools who didn’t have the many opportunities and resources (particularly educational, social, and financial) that he generously afforded me.
I do so because of the important values he passed on to me: a strong work ethic and conducting one’s affairs in a principled and truthful manner, and because his not acknowledging me ultimately caused me to strive harder and achieve greater success in college and in my career.
I do so because he never meant me any harm; quite the contrary, he truly wanted what was best for me.
I do so because of the constant love and dedication he has shown in taking care of my mother, who had a debilitating stroke six years ago.
And finally, I do so because it frees me from resentments from the past and allows me to focus on the things that will improve my life.
As I explain in The Gifts of Acceptance and my other writings on the subject, the gifts of acceptance are reciprocal. By accepting my father as he is, our bond has grown stronger each year and we share many intimate moments– and, I now gratefully hear, “Danny, I love you.”
So this Father’s Day, I encourage you to choose Acceptance. My prior post, “The Best Mother’s and Father’s Day Gift: Acceptance” further explains why. You can also watch my recent CBS tv interview on the subject here:http://tinyurl.com/y67aljvb
I love you Dad!
In the meantime,
Let It Go–And Accept What Is!
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