The power of a Father’s Apology

This past year, I found myself in one of those monthly, long distance conversations with my father where you go through the list of family members and friends. We discussed weather, ailments and plans for the future, who is doing what and what comes next. As usual, we covered the kids and both my mom and dad.

Sandwiched in that conversation was this beautiful statement that I never asked to hear
or even imagined as a thought to be entertained.

My dad apologized to me.

My Daddy and I - Thanksgiving holiday

I still remember one of the conversations that directed my decisions when I was young. I remember that my dad told me that it is important to choose a major in college that would give me a good base for a job with a lucrative income. He suggested that I go into the business field. If I ever found myself divorced, I would then be able to make a good living.

I still remember that conversation in part because
I had never considered that I would ever find myself divorced
and “business” felt very foreign to me.

But, I took his advice. After I received an Associate Degree
from a small liberal arts college where creativity and individuality were fostered,
I found myself at Georgia Southern  heading towards a business degree.
What I remember about Georgia Southern was feeling lost.
The school was huge. I lived off campus and had no friends.
I remember that I was absolutely blown away by the computer class that I took that first quarter.
Twenty-five years ago, a computer class was on the basics of using a computer
and code. *crossed eyes*
It was tough and I bombed it.
I’m fairly certain that I had a second academic class .. that I also failed.
But, the class that I remember well was an art class. We were allowed electives
and my heart chose a creative course. I knew I needed a creative outlet.

We had an entire quarter to do three or four projects. The projects could be in any medium that we chose. I remember that they had  very loose parameters and I was SO excited. The one thing that was fixed about the project was that each of the items created had to use the same subject. The subject that I chose to use was a flamingo.

I still remember what my flamingo painting looked like. It was abstract and quite geometric.
I remember being pleased with my final pieces, but I was especially pleased with that painting.

But, overall that quarter I did poorly. I was put on academic probation.
I had recently met and started dating my ex-husband.
We married that May and I did not return to school for almost 25 years.

My father’s advice was logical and strong. It was what he knew to be right.  It was good advice.
And yet, it was not have been the best advice for me.

Me and DaddyBut, as we played catch up that afternoon many months ago,
I found my father … a man over 75
apologizing to me   …. nearly 50
about an event that happened over a quarter century ago.
Basically, he said that his advice might not have been the best for me
and that he was sorry that he had advised me to go into business.
I’ll be honest. I was quite moved.

Thankfully, my father and I have never had animosity between us.
It’s not as though this was a huge rift that needed healing.
We’ve never wasted time angry at each other.
I don’t ever remember spending a single day “not speaking to” my father.
And yet, those few words, offered great comfort. They were accepting and strengthening.

Through the years, I’ve heard some very good advice concerning forgiveness and apologies.

Good advice for forgiveness
is to learn to accept the apology that you were never offered.
Good advice for offering an apology is
an apology that uses the word “but” mid-way, isn’t an apology at all.
Don’t ruin an apology with an excuse for your actions.

And the best advice of all
is that the only apology that is too late
is the one offered to someone who has already died.

We all make errors. We all find ourselves needing to say, “I’m so sorry” for something along the way.
An error doesn’t become a mistake, until you refuse to correct it.  – Orlando Battista
The person who believes he owes no man an apology is only fooling himself.

I am thankful that my father is a humble man. He is honest and forthright.
His word is good and his intentions are upright.
What a sweet blessing to know, too, that he knows that he is not above making mistakes
and that years after an event, when it comes up in conversation
he is quick to offer an “I’m sorry.”

Yes, the power of a Father’s apology is mighty.
Thank you, daddy.
I love you.

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