Sunday, March 03, 2019

Something less than forgiveness

Friday night we ran into The Epsteins at a favorite restaurant. Actually, it would be more of a story if we didn’t run into them since nobody eats out more than Jules and Georgia. We’re a poor second. I didn’t notice them till I turned to the door to look for Peggy. She had stopped to visit their table, so I walked back to say hello. Jules apologized for not asking us to join them saying, “My dad’s been in the hospital in Albuquerque the last three days and I haven’t really seen Georgia.” I said, “No problem. I understand completely.” I said that I was sorry about his father and that I hoped he was getting better.

Later as Peggy and I were polishing off our steak frites at the bar Jules and Georgia came to say good-bye. Jules expanded on his dad’s ordeal. “His blood pressure was off the charts, but they have it stabilized now and he’s back home. The man’s 99 after all so there are going to be setbacks.” I told him how fortunate he is to have his dad in his life. And just because it’s a platitude doesn’t mean I didn’t mean it. Quite the contrary.

With advancing age, my own, comes a measure of introspection. For a guy like me whose relationships don’t extend past immediate family and friends and who barely knew his parents, never mind his grandparents, these long-lived connections are a wondrous fiction. I can’t relate. It occurs to me that I have no memory of my maternal grandparents. I left Ohio for California when I was too young to remember. And I recall seeing my father’s father and mother on just one occasion at the age of seven. Nothing before and nothing after. That’s the whole enchilada. That’s quite a void I suppose but deep and broad family ties reaching into the past are beyond me. I can appreciate them in the abstract at best. It may be that you can’t miss what you never had.

Because my estrangements from my mother and father date back sixty years and almost fifty years respectively my son will not have known his grandparents either. Just for different reasons. “Like father like son.” A somber symmetry.

In fairness, and I have never thought or said this before, my parents died without their only child being part of their lives for half a century. My mother never met her grandson. My father last saw him when he was four. They left this planet alone, one in a Masonic Home in Ohio and the other in an assisted living complex in California. I learned the former from my Aunt Ruth, my father’s sister, who died surrounded by her loving family at the age of 101. The latter came from a death notice I found on the internet many years ago.

For the first time I have grudging sympathy for Glenn and Rachel Immel. Sympathy, I have to note, doesn’t equal forgiveness but it’s something.


Blacks Crossing said...

You may or may not know how intensely your blog will resonate with many. If a person talks personally with friends about relatives, the conversation can turn to how many of us never had "Leave it to Beaver" perfect families. People just never talk about it. And each individual deals with it in his or her own ways. I suspect something less than forgiveness is what most in this situation see as a mental label or solution to the life-long dilemma that shapes us. However you view your life at this point, I must say you have done and continue to do extremely well, and we are glad you are on this earth. We bet Garrett is as well.

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