This past weekend we went to Edmonton for my Dad's surprise party. He's been staying up and working on the house for the past few weeks and I was really missing him. His birthday actually isn't until June but since my brothers and their ladies are all headed off for various countries very soon, we decided to celebrate a little early. Dad had no idea what was coming. As far as he knew, he was going for a nice dinner with Mum and Craig and Bobbi and when he showed up there were 15 other people there. My Aunt and Uncle and cousins, some of our oldest and dearest family friends, my other brother and his girlfriend and of course, Brian and I. The look on his face when he saw us was pure magic.
I have found over the past few years that how I look at my parents has really changed. When I was younger they were "Mum and Dad" - older, wiser, funny but at the end of the day, my parents. Now that I am an adult I see them as more than just my parents. I see them as complete individuals, as a couple but also independent of each other. I recognize myself in them and I see their lives with greater clarity and a sense of recognition. I am able to see myself in them in a way I never could before. This has been a wonderful gift for me and I feel like I have a far deeper understanding of how they must have felt at different points along their life, because I have experienced a lot of the same things in my life now. With this greater connection also comes a greater understanding of pain and how difficult and complicated life can be. I see them struggle with growing older and know that I will have the same struggle. I see them making adjustments as they move to a new stage of their life and I watch and learn.
My Dad really is an amazing man. I watched him on Saturday night as he went to every single person in the room and made them feel valued and special. He had kind words for each person and they were personal and genuine. He has an energy that lights up a room and makes every one in it feel like they are the most important person there. He has a vulnerability that he does not try to hide and it makes people feel like they can be vulnerable too...like they can just relax and be who they are. I was so happy to see him there surrounded by people who love him and respect him and I hope he knew, at that moment, how truly loved he is.