Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The sins of the father

Going to my grandpa's memorial has brought up so many feelings and so many topics on which to reflect. I was really content to not go because I am eager to avoid family drama, and what family lacks drama? There is a lot of pain surrounding the care and death of my grandpa. His sons blamed my step-grandma for not giving him proper care. But there was no inclusion of my step-grandma into the family. They've been married almost 20 years, but she was never fully welcomed. Because of that, I guess she never felt safe to admit needing help caring for Grandpa. She feared being removed from the picture--that they would take him away from her. She would have had to give him up as dead if she'd allowed the four sons in. Ultimately, that played out.

But this current pain and contention is only the most recent layer of suffering in this family. There are decades of deceit, selfishness and secrets among the brothers and their wives. This has trickled down to the next generation. In fact, I think it is the next generations--Grandpa's grand kids, the Cousins--who've borne the most pain, awkwardness and insecurity. We were never involved in divorce, business fallout, substance abuse or philandering. Our parents were up to their necks in it and used us to help them feel not alone, to hurt others, or just as sounding boards. As the grown-ups separated, they took the kids. We were pulled away from family, given limited perspectives about why we couldn't be with family and we filled in the gaps with our small, still-maturing minds.

The results are pretty disastrous. We are a generations of individuals who struggle with insecurity, not having a place to belong, grudges all our own plus those we've adopted from the stories we've heard. We have abandonment issues, Daddy issues, attachment issues, commitment issues... We think ourselves less than, or at least we think 'they' think we are less than. Let's face it. In the family world, we are all a little off center.

If only we can leave the past behind, leave the parents to themselves, to work out their own issues. We can just remember our games in the basement, before all the troubles reached us. We can allow that we all grew up hearing who knows what, but that it doesn't matter. We are the Cousins. A new generation with memories of Grandpa and surrender to the Lord can raise us above the muck. We can start again.

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