I was supposed to write about solitude today, and I will. But yesterday a very significant event happened in my mother’s family of origin. And though I won’t give it too much detail, it matters, and I wanted to talk about it, not to give glory to Satan or to garner sympathy, but because I truly believe carrying wounds out of darkness and into light brings healing.
My mother’s father died yesterday.
Notice I didn’t say grandpa, papaw, gramps, pops, poppy or any of those other cute names we give our beloved old men.
This man was not beloved, at least not to me.
My mother’s story is hers to tell; and although I’ve shared it with a few friends and relatives only because it sets a precedent for my own story, I won’t share the details on a public blog.
I’ll just say this: My mother had far, far, far from a perfect childhood.
Just the thought of what she endured, just seeing my sweet Nim’s angel face and picturing my mother at her age, it makes my stomach turn to the point of nausea.
There is evil in this world, friends.
That’s not to say my grandfather was evil. We are all created in God’s image, but we are born into sin and sin happens to us, which allows us to grow more sin, like a vicious cycle.
Like a family tree choked by ugly vines.
Other than telling the truth of what he did, I won’t speak ill of him after his passing. I’ll only say that what he did has affected generations.
Yet even so, my mother cared for my grandfather. She bathed, helped him use the bathroom, fed him.
My mother, who really doesn’t even believe the goodness and Godhood of Jesus, practiced His very nature.
“Love your enemies,” he said. “And pray for those who persecute you.”
Pray for your enemies.
I can’t tell you how much I’ve struggled with my mother’s family tree over the course of my lifetime. Those vines, they became like a filter through which every memory and incident was viewed in a different and damaged way.
There aren’t enough jars to hold the tears I’ve cried over the joy and privilege of having the best version of my mother stolen from me.
Her childhood wounds and subsequent actions made it difficult for her to love the way mothers should. There were deep holes, huge walls.
Flaws and all, she does the best she can to love me and my brother.
And I’m thankful I have her.
You see, I’m not stupid enough to fall for Satan’s ploy to make me a victim, full of self-pity and self-destruction.
I know there are mothers far worse than my own.
And I played that card for far too long.
I thought I could change certain people by spiraling out of control, wake them up, make them apologize and do better. Make them see what they had done, force them to be who I wanted and needed them to be.
But the only people hurt in that scenario were me and anyone who happened to be in my path.
And that’s the way cycles work, you know. If you don’t make a conscious effort to break them, you repeat them by your own actions. And then you so badly hurt those you love, they repeat them. And so on and so on and so on…
I will never understand the irony of life. My mother’s father, a man who hurt so many people, lived to the ripe old age of almost 90.
Yet, just yesterday, I came across a Facebook post of a beautiful young mother who is dying of cancer, leaving behind a loving husband and three gorgeous babies. Those babies will be robbed of their sweet, adoring mom.
There is evil in this world, friends.
I’ve longed to break my family’s cycle. But I’m finding it hard if not nearly impossible, having traveled rocky paths in my journey to break free.
I don’t know if I will be able to fulfill the dreams I had of being the hero of my family, the changer of my family tree, killer of the vines that choked it.
But I do know this: I will choose to hold on to the memory of a mother who was my Girl Scout leader, who cleaned houses and sewed costumes so I could take dance and piano, who helped the kids in my second grade class glue and hang art projects.
That mom, the one who tried so hard to be a good and loving mom, will be the mom I choose to remember.
Most importantly, I will make sure these four gifts of mine never wonder if their mother loves them.