Religion, the root of all evil, was the biggest factor that prevented me from ever being close to my father.

A deeply religious man, who truly lived according to Christian values, he had a tough time dealing with his firstborn, who, from an early age, proved to be rebellious, independent, stubborn, and gay.

I never bought into the religiousclaptrap no matter how many hours I had to spend in Church, or taking part in family prayers. I had anadversarial relationship with religion, an inborn mistrust and dislike of the whole concept. Idid nothesitate to expressit loudly. Being punished for skipping Sunday services did nothing to deter me.

In fact, itbecame very easy to "lose my religion,” to his life-longdismay. As time went by, our differences spilled into politics, social issues, lifestyles, education and career choices,never agreeing on anything and always carrying a tremendous amount of tension anytime we were in the presence of one another.

Ironically he never found it difficult to get on well with strangers, with his nephew, or other people's kids.

During my childhood I feared andobeyed him. I was always readinghis temperament, assessing his mood whenhe arrived home from work, constantly preparing myselffor our daily battle around the dinner table. Much later I came to the realization I loved him, but sadlyInevergot to know him.

Looking back I can now say it was a waste of lives. Mine and his, plain miseryfor the sakeof some ancient superstitious belief in an unknown god. I kept arguing with him thatthere was no convincing evidence our world was created by divine intervention, that a god intercedes in human affairs, or the complete absence of proofthere is life after death for that matter. The more I went onthe further apart we grew.

I know he truly loved me and cared for me, but he had no idea how to reach outor bend his stern views of what Ishould be or do. And Inever madean effort to extend an olive branch.

I never compromised. 

According tomy mother, we weretwofaces of the samecoin.

My father was the strong and silent type — with an emphasis on the silent. That is, until his short fuseexploded in anger. Very much like some people describeaspects of my personality. He was a stranger formost of mylife. I left home at a very early age to get away from him, todiscover and explorethe world on my ownterms. To his credit, he gave me the freedom I needed and craved.

He probably realized the battle was lost and therefore did not oppose myliving halfway across theglobe. For my part,Ichose to live with no regrets.”  

Again, to his credit, he never lost touch with me. For 30 years, not a week went by, without receiving from him a handwritten letter. It didn't matter thatmost of the time I didn't bother toreply. They kept coming. He never gave up on me.

Many of usare able to forgive our parents for perceived childhood wrongs once we see them as normal human beings who did the best theycould raising us. Whenmy fatherstarted to age he began to soften and my defenses dropped because I feared him less.   

But it wasnt until I sawhimas an old man slowly preparing for his own death that I was able to summon the strength to go up to him and tell him that I loved him. It was the first time in my adult life I eversaid that to him. The gratitude, surpriseand happiness I saw in his eyes and face, after I uttered those three magic words, instantly healed all the wounds of the past, on both sides. 

It was a brief moment, on a train station platform, butit reconcileda lifetimeof turmoil, friction and pain.

I thinktiming is everything when initiating a step toward reconciliation,and you donhave to wait decades before doing it. I know that now. There might not be a tomorrow.My father passed away five years after our milestone moment.

Knowing that I had already said the things that needed to be said, actually helped a great deal during the grieving process. Nothing was left unsaid, hence, leaving no room for regrets.

Now when Fathers Daycomes around, only good memories accompany the tears.

I onlywonder what our lives could have been if religion hadn't kept us so far apart for so long.