Posted by: Upāsaka Subhavi | 09/26/2014

My Father

We’re visiting my father for the weekend and, as is the case for most of us, these visits are often fraught with emotional peril and dissonance. My relationship with my father has never been particularly close or warm but I long ago cried that one out and came to terms with it. However, for the last decade and a half I have watched my father’s health steadily decline while his choices and behaviors have gotten progressively worse. So it is that when we come to visit his house he spends most of the day chain-smoking and, once cocktail hour arrives, downing vodkas on the rocks despite the fact that he is a man with heart problems and who is slowly going blind.

I’m not sure what the “appropriate” reaction might be but I am always filled with a sense of despair and my heart breaks for what must be a lonely  and misery-filled existence. So, this morning, I woke as he was going to bed and spent a half an hour in meditation contemplating his suffering and radiating metta and karuna to him. I was amazed by how quickly my heart opened and at the intensity of the feelings of love and sympathy but maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by the strength of one’s love for one’s parents.

So, what’s the point of all this? Why document this? I’m not sure, really. Initially I wanted to say that, despite my own perception of the situation, it is quite possible that my father isn’t suffering as much as I think he is; that I can’t know his thoughts and feelings with certainty so perhaps I’m painting a darker picture than is necessary. But, I don’t quite feel that way anymore. Still, I am powerless to do much more than send metta and karuna and to let him know, in whatever ways are possible, that he isn’t alone and here are people who love him.

May my parents receive the merits of my practice, may the devas protect them and may the always meet with the teachings of the Buddhas in this and all subsequent lives.


  1. Mike,

    Of course our journey’s differ in any number of ways, but one way you may not have is that it could inspire others to reflect on their own relationships, whether parental or otherwise.

    I know I am working on strengthening ones in my life that have atrophied. It has been a slow road, though one I am glad I am on. Your sharing reminds me that not only is it worth the time, it is what time is for.



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