I spent the most enjoyable evening Facebook chatting with my newly-found brother and sister, and my brother’s son and daughter….my niece and nephew. How strange and wonderful to write all of that. I came home after a long day of teaching the crazy and fun clarinetists at the UAB Summer Music Camp, all while dealing with some severe low back pain. I sat down with my heating pad, opened my iPad, and up popped a message from Andy….
“Hey, Sis, how’s the back?”
I was touched that Andy, and then my sister Leanne, wrote to check on me. My heart swelled. Andy and I chatted for hours, and Leanne joined in mid- way through the evening. At one point, both of Andy’s children friended me and we exchanged messages. We all had a thread going for a while, full of silliness, making me feel a part of the wonderful family they all were already. Again I was reminded of what we could have had all these years had things been different. I won’t fixate in that, but I do have to acknowledge the loss in order to really cherish the gift of now.
Andy and I delved deep, talking about our dad and our experiences with him, our feelings about him. Dad was such a complex man, a man who inflicted a lot of emotional abuse, or at the very least, emotional distance, on those he loved. I was so happy to hear that Andy was able to break the cycle. He sounds like a very loving father and husband, and I am proud of him. My sister-in-law, niece, and nephew, all sound delightful, and I can’t wait to see them all during my conference in July.
All three of us have come to terms with our memories of Dad, and we have all forgiven him, understanding that his life experiences in a long military career affected him more than we could ever understand. While we have forgiven, we can’t forget. I am so grateful that we can talk through things together, as well as help to fill in the missing pieces in what we know of Dad’s life. I can share with them what Mom and my older sister and brothers have shared with me about Dad’s early years. Andy and Leanne can tell me about the man who supposedly mellowed some with age. They have such an intimate knowledge of him from growing up with him. I only know him through brief visits and stories, with everything being filtered through the veil of my mother’s pain.
I told Andy that I had many photos to share with them. When he mentioned a year book of Dad’s from when he was stationed in Kansas at the beginning of his career, I told him that Mom had told me about that time. Andy offered to share them with me so that Mom could see them. What a kind and considerate thing of him to do. I have some special things that I want to share with both Andy and Leanne, and I know that each word spoken, each memory or treasure shared will heal our hearts just a little bit more.
As we discussed last night, this is our time to make things right, to heal the wounds inflicted by the past and move forward together. One of my Open Group friends, Kate DeLodovico, sent a very touching message to me, saying that perhaps all of this was brought on by Dad, bringing us together to give each other the love that he was not able to give. I really want to believe that, and will continue to focus on the positives.
We have each other finally, and all we need is love, understanding, patience, empathy, and a big dose of humor. After our chat last night, I have no doubt that all of those things are firmly in place. This summer has brought with it a journey of love and forgiveness, and I open my arms in gratitude.