Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Echo

A, at Coming to the Quiet, writes:

. . .After I got off the phone, I felt a certain melancholy settle in. At times like that, my thoughts sometimes turn to my father, now several years deceased. We did not get along through much of my youth and into adulthood. Again, I'll not here and now go into the reasons why. Only in his last years did we reach a sort of peace with each other. And I have to give most of the credit for that to him, not to me. I saw him grow and change. Now, more and more often as I get older, I catch his echo in my being, in a certain phrase he was fond of that seemingly starts to appear in my vocabulary, in mannerisms, the way I walk and talk. It is in fact eerie to experience this, especially as my views and life are in most ways an antithesis of his. Yet, I get reminded...I am still his son.

I am fortunate that my parents are still living, yet this resonates so much with things that I have been noticing lately in my own life. I catch a little glimpse now and then of how I am becoming like my father in certain ways, how things he taught me have become part of me. And yet, there is still that distance, a distance which began in my teen years, one from which we never really recovered. How does one bring such things up without it seeming and indictment? Especially now when neither of us is who we were then? You would think this would make it easier, but in some ways it seems to make it harder. Are we willing to remember who we were then, and the mistakes we made, in order to find reconciliation now? Can we overcome our pride?

It's good to know that I'm not alone in this. Maybe you also know all too well this "echo" which resides in many of us, in spite of our distance? We know, don't we, that the answer is reconciliation. But how do we get there? I hope soon to find out.


Blogger Joe said...


I was in a similar position to where you are now with my dad. I decided to move forward with a reconciliation (a strong word, as we've never been estranged...just something of a coldness) because:

1- Scripture specifically tells us to honor our mother and father and,
2- I began to realize that my dad wasn't an awful SOB...he was just the way he was, and tried to deal with us to the best of his abilities which often weren't adequate for the task.

At the time I couldn't put myself in his place, nor look upon him charitably. But in the last year, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's and it hit me the end of our time together on earth is limited. I don't want him to go with any sort of barriers between us.

He's my dad and I love him. Much of what I am, the good--which I denied for a long time--and the bad and the inbetween, I owe to him. He had to endure things I never will and that set of experiences made him who he became.

These days, most of what came between us is purposefully forgotten, and what isn't I just let slide and offer up.

Notice this advice was worth every penny you paid to read it.



6:33 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

As I promised I would, I'm posting a comment here from someone who prefers to remain anonymous:

"Mark, thanks so much for this post. I have so many issues to resolve with my father. And he's seriously ill now, possibly terminally. Right now, the only "echo" I can think of is that he's passed on to me his set of dysfunctional behavior patterns. Of course that's not the whole truth. Joe, thanks for your thoughts as well. My prayer is to have the Lord crush my stony heart and give me the ability to love him, without condition. I can't do it on my own."

I know I'll be praying for this person and his father.

Please join me.

11:45 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Another comment from someone who has asked to remain anonymous:

"Sometimes I feel as if there's nothing more I'd desire than to be
reconciled to my mom. I'm moving back home for the summer (a couple
soon and I haven't been home for more than a week at a time since
from highschool several years ago. I'm anxious about this since the
two years I spent at home were honestly the worst years of my life.
scared that the tensions of the past will be resurrected. I know I'm
the same person I was as a teen but I'm not sure my mom knows who I am

As a side note, it seems much more difficult to practice virtue when
with family than when living on your own."

12:15 PM  
Blogger Joe said...

The late, great Fr. Justin--one of those buzzcut, old-school Jesuits--used to have a rather gruff, but ultimately true, phrase that applied to things like this:

"It sure beats a scourging and hanging on a cross for half a day."

In a way, Fr. Justin was telling us that we have been given, by God, the opportunities to pick up a cross and follow Him. No need to rummage, scrounge and search...there it is, right there on the ground. Grab it and go.

We have been called to many things, and situations of estrangement (or EstrangementLite), meet many of these criteria.

We are called to love and to be charitable (St. Paul's famous passage from his 1st letter to the Corinthians deals with charitable love), we are called to honor our mother and father, we are called to suffer grievances patiently, we are called to unite our anguish and pain to Christ's. We are called to forgive.

Sadly, knowing all of the above doesn't make it any easier. It just makes it a teeny, tiny bit clearer.

In the end, harboring these sorts of feelings are toxic not to those who have hurt us, but to us and those with whom we interact and unwittingly touch with these feelings.

And you are all in my prayers.



3:18 PM  

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