“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was.”
A Good News Report: The triumph of forgiveness.
My Uncle passed away recently. He was my father’s youngest brother, as well as the sibling he was the closest with. I went to the funeral home to pay my respects and I visited with relatives I had not seen in many years – probably since the last funeral!
It was good to be with my dad’s family and I appreciated the warm affection they extended toward me.
My own father passed away at the age of 45. Struck by an underage DUI driver he suffered a massive brain injury and died some many months later from multiple complications. The irony is that my father was (himself) an alcoholic. The police report indicated both individuals shared fault in this tragic accident. Witnesses reported my father walked out into oncoming traffic after leaving a nearby bar; and while not sustaining any physical injuries, the young girl behind the wheel suffered her own terrible consequences.
Although in different capacities both of their lives were altered forever.
Surprisingly, those months following my father’s accident were some of the sweetest & dearest memories I have with my father. This is amazing solely because most of my childhood I have repressed.
Repressed memories are memories that have been unconsciously blocked due to the memory being associated with a high level of stress or trauma. I have learned that a repressed memory is sometimes compared with dissociative amnesia, and likewise is defined as an “inability to recall autobiographical information.”
Which explains why I will most likely never be the family historian!
Our brains are muscles and muscles have “memory” and my brain grew accustomed to not remembering everything. As a result this still remains sometimes challenging for me.
(Try though I may!)
Why do we have repressed memories? Dr. Sigmund Freud described repression as a way of blocking out painful events so the person would not have to recall them. Freud believed that repression is an unconscious way for the mind to act against trauma, as opposed to suppression, which is a conscious decision to block out memories.
I use to be very bothered by this. Why do I have so few childhood memories? And why do I still have difficulty imprinting new ones? But then I’ll recall a traumatic event- like the time a coffee cup was shattered over my father’s head to break his hold around my neck – and I am truly okay that my memory is not as good as it could be. I am grateful and believe God has erased the memory of much of the trauma I experienced because it is just not necessary to relive. In many ways it has helped me, as my own MIL often likes to say, “turn the page.”
I just wish He was a little more careful with the eraser – because some of it I just may LIKE to remember!
I loved my father.
I am grateful to have his same deep-blue eyes.
And I am humbled to have a small fraction of his artistic abilities.
Also, I know my dad loved me.
However, it is no doubt our relationship was very fractured.
So it is, by the grace of God, in a very sincere way during those many months following his accident, I forgave him and our relationship was reconciled.
God revealed -and I finally accepted- how the Disease of Alcoholism held a terrible control over my father’s life, which he was never able to conquer.
“For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.”Romans 7:15
This personal acceptance, of my father’s own inabilities, allowed me to unpack all of my anger and hurt – just like emptying a suitcase- and surrender it all (piece by piece) at the feet of Jesus.
Who not only picked up all those items laying there which I’d unpacked; but also miraculously carried the now empty suitcase away for me too.
I know He wisely did so because He knew I just may be tempted to repack it again!
Surprisingly, going to the recent funeral of my uncle I was over-whelmed to discover indeed, I never have. Not even one, single, solitary item.
Love still remains where pain, hurt and anger once reigned.
Joyfully, I remain free!
“…as we forgive those who trespass against us…”The Lord’s Prayer
At the funeral home, amidst all the photos displayed of my uncle’s life, I discovered a photo of my own father as a child standing beside all his siblings. It startled me to see it and brought tears to my eyes as it also was the first time, in my entire life, I’d ever seen a photo of my dad as a child! Seeing him at such a young age I realized how I’d never had the occasion before to acknowledge my father was, at one time, just a kid.
A kid like I had been. Like my grandchildren will be.
He had games he played, foods he liked and disliked, friends he hung around with, and schools he attended – each with teachers and subjects he liked or avoided. He undoubtedly had childhood hopes, dreams and plans for a future.
So it is no wonder when I visited my father’s burial plot weeks later, along with Helen the magical golden-retriever in tow, that I reflected on so many different questions while kneeling there – than in years past.
What did my dad want to be when he grew up? Did he ever dream of being a father? Did his life take on and become anything he’d ever imagined?
I do verily hope so.
And I look forward one day, as I cheerfully meet him in Heaven, listening to him tell me all those things I never had the opportunity to ask.
I just hope I remember!
hugs n’ blessings for memories lost and memories made – may we hold on to the ones we cherish and let go of the ones we no longer need!