A long drive (Excerpt #4 – Forgiving our Fathers and Mothers)

He was a man, youngish, well, certainly not all that old even if he had a beard that put some years on him. For one reason or another, he had come a long way, halfway across the country, thousands of kilometres, in his black pick-up truck.

And then, finally, he stood there at the front door with nobody knowing, nobody imagining it would be him.

His father, unable to walk very quickly anymore, was somewhere in the bowels of the house, a big rambling old estate home full of heritage and character, but, like the man himself, also not the youngest house on the block either.

So, rather than the father, it was his wife who walked to open the front door. And when she did this and looked at the young man who had travelled so far, she didn’t recognize him any more than you or I would recognize any traveller from any faraway place.

But the youngish man addressed her by name. So then the woman — she was the old man’s second wife — had another look at the traveller. And then she pictured his face without a beard – it wasn’t a thin beard. And then, if she didn’t say it, she thought it loud it enough for anyone to hear: Oh My God.

The woman took it all in, this young man there, in real flesh. Then the father came out. And short of dying and going to heaven, you couldn’t have imagined him being any happier.

And so it went, there at the front door of that big, old house, this father-son reunion, one as meaningful as any, this true story that shows sometimes the wheels of life do take us over very long distances and to those faraway places we thought we had left behind long ago.

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It comes to mind because we haven’t forgotten the book called Forgiving our Fathers and Mother, a very worthwhile read from my writing colleague Leslie Leyland Fields, a book I began sharing thoughts from some time ago.

If you missed them, excerpts, starting from the most recent, are here and here and here.

Today, here are a few more, especially keeping in mind that young man who drove his truck so far, and then, not long after that meeting, turned around and drove all the way home again.

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We long for justice. All of this is warranted. But I know we hunger just as passionately for the truths that are larger than us. We want to be affirmed in our pain, but there is another pull – to see beyond ourselves and the pain that has locked us in an isolation chamber and numbed us to the larger world …

… We will go there now, stepping back from our own stories to consider our parents’ stories … Maybe we haven’t done this at all yet – seen more fully into our mothers’ and father’s lives, what they are as people apart from the harm they’ve done to us. (P. 41)

We can barely see into ourselves with any clarity. We have an even greater blindness towards our parents. For lots of reasons. We may not want to take the time to see into their hearts and their histories …

To do this may cost us some  phone calls. Some visits. Some travel. (P.42)

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