Here he is.....the one, the only "CARLOS BANDITO". Famous for his "incognito" style, his over pouring generosity and of course his good looks. Last sited in Kathmandu, Nepal. Why you ask???? Helping his daughter bring her daughter home. It is rumored he has super hero powers.
Truth be told, my father is my rock, my inspiration and my support. He has ALWAYS been there for me throughout all the phases of my life....which there have been many. So, when he asked me if I was sure I wanted to go through with this adoption based on so many unforeseen challenges and the likelihood I would not be able to bring Junu home, my response was strong and resolute. I said "Dad, I can't not go (I love using double negatives), she became my daughter as soon as I received her picture way back in June. I have to go get her despite the obstacles along the way. I can't leave her there alone." He understood.
So fast forward to me making plans to go to Nepal in November 2010. My father had offered to go, but I had some concerns regarding his health. His physician had detected several aneurysms in his abdomen, in addition to some other medical issues he has had over the years. I felt very concerned and I expressed this concern to my father and even suggested he not join me in Nepal because of his health. He clearly understood my position and concern but proceeded to share the following. He said, "Sharlyn, you know how you feel about Junu? You know how you love her and can't leave her in Nepal? Well, that my dear is how I feel about you. I will not let you go alone. Barring a strong recommendation from my physician to not go, I am going with you. I am going with you to get my granddaughter." There are those times in life when the love and passion of another strikes you so deeply and you feel it to the degree that everything around you almost seizes to exist. It's as if this love and protection my father was showing me became contained in a sacred vessel where time, circumstances, factors and fears disappeared. Only love was felt. It was a most sacred moment for me, to recognize, now being a parent, the love one feels for their child, no matter what their age. What a blessing I have received, to simultaneously love another human being (my daughter) and be loved the same way (by my father). I am being ushered into parenthood in the most perfect of ways. So that was it. His physician gave the okay for him to travel and the reservations were made.
Obviously we knew this trip would invariably change our lives. We knew we would see and experience parts of ourselves as well as this new land we were in. We probably, to some degree, expected a deepening of our love and respect for one another, but had no idea how much. It is through this experience that we recognized even more, how very precious life is and how blessed we are to have the people we do in our lives. As I sit here in Ithaca, reflecting back, I have so much to share and be thankful for regarding my family, specifically my father. So much was learned and if it is true we choose our parents before we come to this world, then I give myself an A+++
My father, Carl, has always been a strong influence in my life. He has had many spiritual, physical, emotional, financial and relational challenges throughout his life, as many of us do. However, what I have appreciated so very much about him is his tenacity and ability to be strong no matter what the challenge might be, and there were many. When you spend so much time together as we did on this trip, you ask more questions and find out more answers. I found myself being in "awe" of my father. Knowing his past and his up bringing makes me even more appreciative of the father he is, it could have turned out very differently.
Nearly every evening in Nepal we would make our way up to the Chinese restaurant in our hotel. We would take this time, as you could imagine, to reflect upon the days events and plan for the following day. Inevitably our conversations would expand and I found myself asking more questions about my father's life. I guess, I felt I always knew much of my father's history, but in truth, I didn't. What a gift it is to practice "reverential listening". The kind of listening where you fully receive without rebuttal. To take in the words, the cadence, the sound of the voice, the emotions that lie underneath. It is a rich and beautiful practice.
My father has always been a kind of "magic" human being. As long as I can remember, people were always interested in him. He had the kind of personality that most liked, but also he is a "no bullshit" kinda guy, so I know there are those who didn't have the "warm fuzzy" towards him. I appreciate his ability to always be authentic, a quality many lack in today's world with image and money being the driving force. He is and has always been extraordinarily handsome. In fact, both of my parents are the kind of beautiful that causes a bit of stir. While I know I'm an attractive woman, I no where near possess the kind of physical beauty both my parents embody, but that is really insignificant. When I was young, all my 9 year old girlfriends had a crush on my father...he was my hero. As I grew to be a teenager, I found solace and safety in expressing the many factors that surrounded my teenage experience. Once I became an adult woman we came to a place of sharing on many levels of consciousness, life, spirit, God. Most of my friends found my father interesting to talk with because he has always had an expansive mind. Spiritually, he has been a great model for me because he was always seeking to know God more. I remember when I was younger and we lived in the country in Pine City, New York, he went up into the woods for 1 week to fast and pray. Now, his immediate family had absolutely no spiritual interest. He was the odd one of this bunch and as you will see, it is quite amazing that he evolved to be the kind of person he is now. You see, my father's parents were of a volatile nature. My grandmother had a temper that was poisonous, my grandfather, a WWII veteran, damaged from the brutality he experienced. Their marriage didn't last and my grandfather moved away to Iowa and I, nor my father, had much of a relationship with him. So now with a mother who was quite angry and selfish, he and his younger brother became susceptible. I had no idea how much. I just kept asking questions and this is what he shared.
He never remembered much affection from his mother, or perhaps any. She worked hard and played hard. She was a single parent in the 50's which cast a shadow upon them all. Not socially acceptable. They didn't have much, food being included here. At the age of 7 or 8, he and his brother were sent to 2 different foster homes, my grandmother didn't want to care for them any longer. Mama Jerzach's and Mrs. Bowman's. My father expressed fond memories at Mama Jerzach's as she lived on a farm. After some time he and my uncle were sent to a home in Rochester for wayward boys. I think he said they were there for 2 years. My father was in the "bad boy" cabin and my uncle was in the "smart boy" cabin. My father struggled here. He told me many stories which made my eyes well up. He was just a little boy, being tough, in a place where he had no choice, much like my Junu. Tears. So you see now why this has effected my father so greatly and why his heart is bigger than life for Junu and all the little children within the orphanage...he gets it because he was there in his own childhood.
As my father would have it, he would run away from the home in Rochester, with his little brother, and hitch hike back towards Elmira. They were caught along the way, but they didn't go back to the home, but rather back in the home of my grandmother and her new husband. My father stayed there until he could enlist in the service at age 17 and stationed himself in Alaska. Could he get a further away?
The beauty of this sharing is my greater understanding of my father's life and that there were many choice points along the road for him to stay bitter, but he rose up and chose love. He chose LOVE. He has showered my life and those around him with magic and I am forever endeared and grateful. He is the BEST father a girl could ask for and Junu already knows this truth. Thanks for reading. And Dad...thanks for being you. I love you.
P.S. Oh and for all of you who were concerned about the no washing machine at the orphanage...well Dad purchased one for them, as well as a small space heater. He couldn't not.