Once Upon a Time

October 3rd, 2012

It’s funny how you can carry a grudge, an injustice, a hard knot of anger under your skin — one that you unconsciously rub and worry all the time — and then suddenly you see yourself and the wound you’ve been keeping raw in a totally different light. I think that happened at my father’s funeral today. For years, even though I told myself and others that it didn’t hurt me at all that my dad had cut me out of his life, it was still simmering and blackening the back burner of my soul. I felt disloyal to my mother when I reconnected with him. I believed there was only one story, one side, and my mother was the victim and I was her acolyte. I was stone-cold sure of this, and I was determined not to care, not to cry.This week I saw that even though my father failed me badly, he was present for others in his life and they appreciated a part of him that I never got to see.  When my little brother, who is stoic and covers up his feelings with wit and sarcasm, broke down, I had to face that he got the parenting I missed and I didn’t begrudge him one little bit. When the pastor looked at me during his eulogy and said that my father knew he needed forgiveness for some wrongs, my arms which had been crossed over my chest defensively dropped to my lap. And when the Navy guys played Taps and presented me with the flag that represented his service during World War II, that hard knot started to dissolve. Because I was born when my father was in the Pacific during the war, and that flag represented a tenuous, tiny connection to him. And today, I’ll take any connection, no matter how fragile and fake it might seem, as a starting point for forgiveness to begin. Not because he needs it, but because I do. I may never understand what happened between our parents, but when I walked away from his grave I felt that an old, worn-out story had ended, and maybe a new one had begun.

2 Responses to “Once Upon a Time”

  1. I think making peace with our parents and their failings and strengths is liberating. Helps us make peace with ourselves and have compassion for ourselves and others.

    My sister was married to a great guy who took a bad turn about 15 years into their marriage. He had a dramatic and complete fall from grace and over the course of a decade, went from being successful in business and relationships to being broke, homeless, and living in his car. And no, this wasn’t the result of any kind of addiction or mental illness. Despite all the ways he’d screwed up and failed my sister (who divorced him) and his kids, his oldest daughter took him in when he was at rock bottom and he turned it all around. Completely. He owned what he had done, mended the relationships that he could mend, remarried to a really wonderful woman, and started another business. His daughters are grown and have families of their own and even though they live really faraway, he visits them regularly. He’s been back on track for about 17 years now and he and I are good friends but some members of my family feel very differently about him than I do. And I understand where they’re coming from too. He betrayed his own famiy, and that’s a very hard thing to forgive.

  2. Tori says:

    Understanding and forgiveness come in time. Right now, everything is new and confused and raw. Relax and breathe even if it lasts for years.

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