One of my favorite father figures in cinematic history is the late Richard Farnsworth portraying Matthew Cuthbert in Anne of Green Gables.
His gentle, quiet presence is reminiscent of my own father; and I love how he immediately falls in love with Anne as she chatters away incessantly, allowing him to simply be himself in silent appreciation.
While Matthew is a man of few words, also like my dad, his adoration for his adopted daughter shines through in his actions, his facial expressions, and his demeanor.
The scene of his death in the film makes me ugly-cry each time… Anne cradling his head in her lap, and him saying, “I never wanted a boy. I only wanted you from the first day. I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.”
Heart = broken. Every single time.
I recently had a vivid dream of this exact scene, with myself as Anne, holding Matthew in my arms as he died.
He looked up at me and said, “I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.”
I woke with this image in my mind, and with crystal clarity, I could see my own father’s face looking on fondly as I heard these words spoken to me by a fictional father figure, whom I cherish nonetheless.
The words were hanging in the air, the silence still seeming to ring from them being spoken moments before.
“I love my little girl. I’m so proud of my little girl.”
The tears were falling from my eyes almost instantly, the certainty of my father’s spiritual presence flowing through me. He had been right there, almost close enough to touch.
Since my father always struggled with finding the words to tell others how he felt, perhaps he chose to channel his words through a figure I loved and trusted.
Perhaps to ensure that I understood the message, and to ensure that I heard him.
As my tears fell, while I sat there in the darkness, I could only say, “Thank you, Dad. Thank you.”
I saw my late Uncle Terry’s face too, along with my father’s, both of them looking at me with the same affectionate smiles.
And then I wondered – are they proud?
I often find myself feeling ashamed about where I am in my life, and how little I’ve accomplished. At least my own skewed perception on what I’ve accomplished, which admittedly is more prone to highlight the failures instead of the successes.
In the past four years, I’ve lived in three different states, searching for my place in the world. I wonder if my search is pointless – is there a ‘perfect’ place for me?
Or, is the lesson I needed to learn that I have to create those feelings of peace and contentment for myself, regardless of where I am?
Part of me feels like my father and my uncle would both be disappointed if they could see me now. But I realize that’s my own disappointment, and my own propensity for being unnecessarily hard on myself.
In my core, and in that place of unbiased truth, I feel certain that they would simply want me to be happy. Whatever that may look like, they’d just want me to be happy.
I think there’s a balance to be found – it’s natural to want ‘more’ from life. I want to own a home someday, I want to be financially comfortable and secure, I want to have a family, adopt a child, rescue more dogs, publish a book, and travel to the places on my Bucket List.
But getting lost in these desires, and focusing solely on the have-not’s – it’s a heavy place to be, and it keeps the light from shining on what I do have. When I practice daily gratitude for the little things, I’m reminded that happiness is truly found in the moments.
Morning coffee, laughing with friends, waking up to my sweet dog nestled beside me, a good book, sushi, having that extra glass of wine even when I can feel the calories collecting on my ass because who-the-hell-cares!, and being reminded – as often as possible – that I’m surrounded in spirit by people who love me.
This is living.
Staying positive can be a fight for me, and I can be lured into the Dark Place easier than I care to admit… seeing light at the end of my tunnel when I’m living in the shadows is like searching for air the further you swim underwater.
As another friend said recently, it’s time to let the light back in.
It’s time to breathe, refocus, and release myself from the weight of the world that tends to gather on my shoulders.
Perhaps my father knew I needed this reminder… And he wanted to let me know that, for whatever reason, he is still proud of me.
Couldn’t have come at a better time.
I think Walt Whitman says is best:
“If you want me again, look for me under your boot-soles.
You will hardly know who I am, or what I mean,
But I shall be good health to you, nevertheless.
Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged,
Missing me one place, search another –
I stop somewhere
Waiting for you.”