Posted by: Jim E | April 27, 2012

More About Dads…And Moms…And What We Don’t Know…

My last post was about Moms and Dads…and their importance to our lives…even when we have difficult relationships with one or the other, maybe both, they are still important…I mentioned that my Mom was the best ever…especially with all the circumstances she had to face…she did it well…she always saw the “wonder” of any given moment…even when they were difficult or seemingly insurmountable…she worked through those times…on the other hand, my Dad didn’t want to “face” anything hard…if it was uncomfortable, he was missing in action..just not there to deal with it…Mom had to come up with the courage to go through it…and she did it time after time…the dynamic in that household was worked out over the years…to the place where he was there in name only…she just did what was necessary to meet the needs of that family setting…

You may or may not understand what I mean…but all families work out a “dynamic” within the structure of the family, its how they get along and do things…sometimes it takes years to work that out, but it always works out, or there is chaos and a breakup is not far off…with my folks, it was worked out over the years…how my Mom took it is beyond me…but she did…even in those last years, he was hard to live with…and until they got quite old, and my Mom had her last stroke, and she could no longer drive or take care of finances…

Then I took over, because Dad had never fixed a meal, paid bills, etc…still at 80 plus, he was missing in action…and Mom, though she had been the enabler-in-chief for years…now it didn’t matter, she was incapable of doing anymore of anything for herself…it was, let me tell you, an eye-opener for my Dad…because he, until the moment he died, hadn’t lost anything…physically some loss, but not his mind…completely “with it”…did I say an eye-opener???…that it was…but it was good for him to finally understand some of the things he shunned for so many years…even having to “take care” of his wife…and though you may not totally understand this…he loved her all those years…and now even more…and found out how much he really did love her…that was an eye-opener, for me…and for my Mom, there was no question about her love…it was solid and unequivocal…a few days after Dad died, Judie and I went up to see her in memory care…(she had just come from the hospital, she couldn’t even go to Dad’s funeral, after over 60 years of marriage…so we wanted to talk to her about Dad’s passing and see how she was doing with all that had happened)…I pulled her wheelchair up close to me, face to face to talk…and in one of her more lucid moments said, “I know he wasn’t a nice person but I forgive him.”…again, you might not understand that…but it was the “wonder” of life that she had…it came out even then…she loved with a kind of love that overcame all obstacles…even a stroke…

But really this is not about my Mom…but about my Dad…(I will write more about Moms and my Mom closer to Mothers Day)…my Dad was a case…and I will not go into all the things he did or did not do in his life…but let me try and tell you why I loved him, other than the reasons I gave in my last post…I don’t know if I will ever understand what made him tick…I just knew he was my Dad…and one thing I said in my last post, kind of tells where I started from in how I came to grips with himI haven’t spent much time wondering why all that happened…but I suppose coming back from WWII and all that was about…young men going off to a war far away…scared to death most of time but trying to be “men”…and coming back to a world that didn’t understand them or what they went through…then spending more time with alcohol than with making a life for themselves…I knew all kinds of men like that…and my Dad was one of them…

So like I said, I haven’t spent a whole lot of time trying to figure him out…we all are who we have become because of what happens to us…experiences we have and then what we do with all that…for my Dad he just wasn’t around and for whatever reasons…over the years I have made my peace with him…and most of that was based on things I could not know…in other words, not only have I not spent much time thinking about the whys…but years ago, I stopped thinking about it at all…I have, instead, put my efforts into how I can love my parents and honor them, as the Bible says I should…it all seemed to work out better in the long run…Judie and I spent much of our time in taking care and loving them in the last years of their life…it seemed better than holding grudges, frustrations and unmet expectations…we are the better for it…

I get the devotional “My Daily Bread” every month…and with the mailing comes a little pamphlet by Mart DeHann called “Been Thinking About It”…this month was called “Our Fathers”…and when we sit and think about things we don’t understand and are upset about it…maybe it is because we just don’t understand, that’s all…though we may think we do…like my Dad…I know there are things I will never know for sure…and because I don’t know I have to let it go because that is what allowed me to change the way I remember my Dad…here is an excerpt from “Our Fathers”…it may help us to forgive and put it all in the envelope marked, “Didn’t Have All The Information”…

On StoryCorps, a project of National Public Radio, I heard 73-year-old Walter Dean Myers tell a story that he says has forever changed the way he remembers his father. Meyers, an author with almost 100 books to his name, recalls that at 14 he already had a love for writing. Since his parents didn’t have much money, he says he started working early and before long had saved up enough to buy a typewriter. According to Meyers, however, his mother had a drinking problem and spent what he had set aside.

When Myers’ father, a hardworking janitor, learned what had happened, he took some of his own hard-earned cash and bought a Royal typewriter for his son.

Since Myers went on to become a successful author, his father’s kindness might sound like the kind of moment that every child would treasure. Myers recalls, however, that in the years that followed, his relationship with his dad was not so encouraging. Even though his dad bought him that typewriter, he was deeply hurt by the fact that, over the years, his dad never said anything about his writing.

Myers said that even when he began including in his books some of the stories he had heard his dad tell, his father would never comment on them.

At that point, the interviewer asked Myers whether he ever asked his father why he never said anything about his writing.

Myers said, no, he had never done that. He added that even when he brought his dying father a book that he had just written, his dad just picked up the book, looked at it, and laid it down without saying a word.

This, however was not the end of the story. After his father’s passing, as Myers was going through family papers, he noticed something that surprised him. He saw X’s wherever his dad’s signature should have been.

With words filled with emotion. Meyers went on to say, “The man couldn’t read. I mean, that was why he never said anything about my writing. It just tore me up….I could have read him a story at the hospital.”

At this point, Meyers’ story might merge with our own. Few things in life are more important than the ability to be at peace with thoughts and memories of our moms and dads. Yet because of our own unmet longings for approval,  feelings of hurt and resentment can linger without the kind of understanding that ended up meaning so much to Myers.

It might help us to know that our parents are probably more like Myers’ father…and like us (needy, broken, and with unmet longings)…than we ever dreamed or imagined.

Now that is something to think about…this is probably a universal experience…and I know it is for me, no doubt there were things my Dad never put in words to me or anyone else…I don’t know what all of it was and I have found I don’t need to know…but I have learned a long time ago to love and honor my parents…and I am better for it…

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Responses

  1. Reblogged this on InspiredWeightloss!.

  2. Two great posts Dad. There is depth of wisdom in what you shared, no doubt. I don’t know that anyone else has ever felt this way, but I can have the thought, even though armed with the inescapable truth you share, that there is no reason for this person or that person to say what is really on their mind. If they can’t, then _________ (fill in the blank). It is selfish thinking, rather than excepting the truth and applying it, which gives us the ability to look at the situation through a different set of lenses. Might give us a chance to ask ourselves the question “I wonder what part of their story I don’t know” or “I wonder what they carry from their past that may not let them articulate what they feel”…instead, we hold out for what we want, and we don’t let the relationship deepen because we can’t love them for what they give, we hold them hostage for what they can’t. I have been so guilty of this, but have also experienced the other side a little in the last 10 years of my life.

    Thanks to you and Mom for continuing to lead by example…working out your faith as the Lord shows you stuff…not just settling in a rut and telling the world “take it or leave it…I am who I am”…THAT is not biblical. Thanks also for being patient with me…watching me make mistakes, but loving me anyway.

    Gramma was incredible…and if those were some of her last coherent words, they were ones that legacy is made of…

    Jared

    • Jared…all I can say is “Yup”…everyone is different…and everyone has a story…we just don’t get to know what all of them are…and then we have to do the best we can with what we have…and allow for our children, and others around us, to guess about us…or just love and honor us for what they do know…

      And “Yup” again, your Grandma was one of a kind…her love was unconditional and active…i.e. taking the initiative regardless of the character of the one being loved…it wasn’t based on the response of the one being loved…like in Deuteronomy 7:6-9 God loves us, not because we deserve it…He loves us, because He loves us…your Grandma was a lot like that…Dad


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