My dad, Bernard Poolman, was somewhat unique. As far back as I can remember, he never had one nasty thought or word towards another person. Being in his presence was always a reprieve from the feelings of judgement coming from other people, and oneself. I have never met anyone who was so completely accepting of every person he met - but at the same time he demanded that you be the very best you could be.
Let me give you some context for when I say he judged no one: We all seem to have this tendency to judge people and things all the time. It is very rare to simply be, without any thoughts - conscious ones or otherwise - running around in our minds about who, what, with whom, or where we are. Even if we are just thinking about what someone else might be thinking of us, we are always on the defensive, ready to switch to the offensive at any sign of aggression. We are constantly churning out these nasty little thoughts about people, just in case they are doing the same to us. Now, I am sure that we all know the feeling: when we know that someone is thinking not-so-pleasant things about us - you would never feel that way around Bernard. He saw through you, but with no judgement. He saw all of you and accepted you. He saw all of you and then challenged you to challenge yourself.
He never bullshitted you - he was always clear, direct and honest. There was never that feeling that he was "tiptoeing" around you, or avoiding some issue. His timing was always perfect for discussing potentially conflict-producing topics, especially personal ones. He would wait until you were ready to actually hear him before speaking about whatever the point is that you were dealing with - be it jealousy in a relationship, conflict with a room mate, self judgements - whatever.
Many people may ask me: What was it like to have Bernard as your father? He was always with me, even when he was away on business when I was young - he would phone every day and ask how my day had been and how I was. He answered my questions plainly and clearly, never thinking up some fairytale answer to make the world seem nicer. He encouraged me to develop my mind in terms of mathematics, giving me sums to do that were far beyond what I was doing in school. He encouraged me to read as much as I could. He allowed me the freedom to discover what I enjoyed. He allowed me to be honest with him - because of this I could not keep anything from him, I felt I had to be honest. He allowed me to make mistakes, but he would always warn me of the consequences beforehand and be there for me if I needed him. He challenged me to see things as they are and not how they appear to be. He challenged me to be honest with myself. He made the time to spend with me. He taught me to put myself in the shoes of another and consider fully their position before making a choice.
I cannot imagine my life without him - but now I must. I must remember his example and strive to do for others what he did for me. I must be patient. I must be kind and not cruel. I must be considerate. I must be dedicated. I must be honest. I must be clear of judgements. I must be open to communication. I must be brave. I must have courage - for the path we walk is one that the world condemns, for it is the path that does not accept the world for it's abuses and atrocities. Ours is a path of controversy for saying what no one else dares to say. Ours is a path of aloneness, for we will be rejected by society for calling society out for what it is: nasty, cruel, abusive, vengeful, hateful, spiteful, false, jealous, envious, angry, ignorant. Our path may be long and hard, but we shall not falter until we can honestly say that Earth is a H(e)aven for everyone.