I don't talk a lot about my father. I haven't seen him in 27 years. He has a whole new family and 2 daughters who are younger than my girls and I've never even met them. It's sad, very sad, but there it is. My father's brother died a couple days ago and I've been just remembering things in general.
My uncle Paul was the #2 son out of 5 sons. My dad was #4 son. My uncle Paul married Doris. Doris encouraged her sister to write her new brother-in-law (my dad) who was in the Air Force. So, when my folks got married, it was Paul's brother marrying Doris' sister. It's actually a very cool thing to have double cousins, where all of our relatives are related, in fact, our family trees are the same., we shared both sets of grandparents. Uncle Paul's daughter, Susan, once took me to school for show and tell as her double cousin! My most complete memory of Uncle Paul was that he was a teaser with a twinkle in his eye. He once told me that the reason he didn't have any hair on the top of his head was because he ate too much peanut butter and it pushed his hair out by the roots. I was in awe of someone who'd actually eaten that much peanut butter!!!
You'd think, being that much related, that our families would have been close. But that wasn't the case. Communication, grace, mercy were not strong traits in my family of origin. When Uncle Paul married Aunt Doris, he was a divorced man. My grandfather didn't approve and even went so far as disowning Doris because of the marriage. Then when my dad married my mom, he was also a divorced man. For some reason, it was not a problem for my grandfather and that caused a huge amount of friction between the sisters. I think the brothers tried to stay in the background as much as possible. For years, the sisters didn't speak to each other. Even though we were as closely related as was possible, I only remember seeing my aunt and uncle 3 times in my life. Once, as a little girl, we went to their house for a visit. Then I saw them at my grandfather's funeral and once here in Texas. All that bitterness they carried through most of their lives.
Family dynamics are very strange sometimes. In my mother's family, there were 3 girls. My mother was the middle daughter and was very much the favored child. She perpetuated that in our family as my brother was very much the favored child also. I'm guessing the same awkwardness that my brother and I stuggle with as a result of that were present in my mother's family also.
My dad was 4th of 5 sons. His mother died of Measles when the youngest son was 6 months old. My dad was 3 when his mom died. The youngest son was raised by an aunt and uncle in the same town. My grandfather brought in a housekeeper who had 2 young daughters of her own. She eventually married my grandfather but she never wanted to raise those boys. My dad was the scapegoat in his family. He was beaten and blamed and he left home as early as he could.
Interestingly, I was the scapegoat in my family. I was abused and blamed and I left home as early as I could.
I feel sad that the adults from my childhood are now dying. I feel sad because it's a vivid reminder that the past is over and done, never to be revisited again. And sad because over time, it is more evident that we are often doomed to repeat the past if we choose not to learn from it the first time. And sad because the hope for reconciliation is beginning to die out too. There was no reconciliation in areas of my parents' lives. And they are perpetuating that with me. And that is most sad to me.
I refuse to give in to self-pity. I prefer to turn the hurt into a deep reminder of what NOT to do to my own next generation. God has so amazingly given Kevin and me the chance to break those chains from the previous generations. We don't have a favored child in our family and we don't have a scapegoat. We don't have bitterness or jealousy that rips apart relationships. Instead, we have acceptance, grace, mercy, unconditional love and acceptance.
There is a part of me that hurts for what I never experienced in my childhood family. But more than that hurt, there is a gratitude that Kevin and I were able to give our girls those things we didn't get to experience. The gratitude outweighs the pain.