Not long after my father died, my dear friend Ann said to me, “The two of you had a truly remarkable relationship.” I was really missing him and probably crying when she said those words to me. I remember thinking, as we sat in the car next to each other, – that’s an odd word. How is a relationship remarkable? And how did it get that way?
Remarkable is defined as worthy of attention or striking; it is therefore something worth remarking about or exploring. I concur with Ann. My dad and I did have an “out of the ordinary” relationship.
What made it so?
To start simply, we did have a lot of similar interests. We both loved the arts and films and were actors. We loved to laugh and be funny. We loved delicious food. We loved nature and delving into spirituality in its many forms.
We both shared the understanding that art imitates life and life imitates art. In my books (which my dad never got to read) I explore the things we always talked about and learned together as we both shared the desire to grow as Human-Actors, with authenticity and love in our hearts. He would have been thrilled by the blending of the actor’s journey when playing a role and developing a character with the hero’s journey, which we each travel in our life-time, and is at the center of my books.
Once introduced to the Enneagram we studied it together for almost twenty years, never becoming bored with it. We both were very committed to self-awareness and going deep into understanding ourselves and others.
Let me be clear, our relationship was not always easy. We had some really rocky times. Both of us were extremely sensitive and intense. We were two very different Enneagram types, he a seven-ish five and me a two. So, we often did not see eye to eye, at first.
The thing that was remarkable about us, though, was that we hung in there with each other and were devoted to staying curious about each other’s view point. We both wanted to keep learning, even if it was hard. This required courage, honesty and sincere introspection. If we were at odds, having caused each other discomfort or pain, we would have extremely difficult conversations. I always had to initiate them but my father, reluctantly or not, joined me. Those conversations could be highly charged and emotional. Still, we muddled through them until we found our way back to understanding and love.
Remarkable relationships are not easily won. They require hard work and aligned intentions; both parties must hold the intention to not make the other the enemy. Rather we must both look for the bridge that binds us, so returning to each other’s arms becomes possible.
Remarkable relationships require vulnerability, transparency and devotion. And it is worth it.
This week was the anniversary of my father’s passing. Our dear friend Mark Brown, of Mark Brown photography, compiled this short photo montage video, where you see the blending of Bernie in his personal life roles as loving husband, dad, friend, and grandfather with some of his professional roles, as diverse as Einstein, Big Daddy, Tevye and even Marilyn Monroe (where he appeared in drag for a commercial) not to mention that he was the perfect Santa Claus inside and out. And he could also be a bit scary. He would get a look in his eyes that I called – his PHL (piercing hate look.) We came to laugh at this name. He could go from sparkly eyes to PHL on a dime. That’s what made him a great actor. He had access to his whole emotional palette.
Take a few minutes to remember him for those of you who knew him, or meet him for the first time if you did not know him while he was alive. He will make you laugh and cry, even from the other side. He will show his soul to you. He is that impactful.
I love you and miss our remarkable relationship, my dear father and friend.