"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


The last time they were here horrible words were thrown into the summer air like acid. An acid strong enough to finally dissolve the already fragile threads holding the relationship in place. Years passed and silence reigned. Tense. Pulsing with pain. Illuminated by lightning flashes of anger.

How could a father say that to his son? How could a mother stand by and pretend it wasn't as awful as it was? How could a son truly believe in his essential worth standing in the exhaust of their hasty departure with the last word?

On the other side, their questions were full of the same pain and incredulity. How could a son treat his parents that way? What had they ever done do deserve this? Couldn't we understand?

This son has a brilliant loving spirit which not even that horrible summer confrontation could dim. He hurt. He grieved. He forgave.

And then he began to send birthday cards to his parents. Signed by him alone because his wife wasn't quite so forgiving. Then he was needed to help his parents move into a new home, and he went without hesitation. That was followed by occasional careful phone calls from the mom who only ever wanted peace and who always made him laugh. And then once in a while the dad would get on the phone - briefly, gruffly, but there. More laughter happened. Forgiveness grew. The wife eventually consented to having her name added to the cards. "I love you," became the blessing at the end of phone conversations. With his two siblings, he surprised them on their anniversary with a weekend visit - the original family of five together for a couple of days of surprisingly easy love and familiar laughter.

Each act of reaching out created a new thread of relationship, fragile at first until there were enough to form a cord of trust.

Last summer the son and his wife were "in the neighborhood" of the parents on their way home from vacation. They stopped for a visit, and the lose threads of new relationship began to weave themselves into something resembling whole cloth.

The son, my husband Walt, turned 60 on Monday. I decided he needed to know how loved he is and organized a surprise party in his honor. I called his mom to invite his parents in person. And invited them to stay the night so they wouldn't have to make the six hour trip home, so maybe final touches could be put on the new fabric of family. They said yes without hesitation.

In the weeks before the party Mom and I talked regularly. Her excitement at a gathering of friends and relatives to celebrate her son was that of a little girl anticipating Christmas. She helped with addresses and ideas and offered assistance at every turn.

The day of the party, Saturday, Mom and Dad were the first to arrive. They were the first people Walt saw. They were the last people to leave on Sunday morning.

Their presence was sunshine - bright, healing, life-giving. The people who brought Walt here gave him the gift of the best love they have to offer on the day he began the first leg of his journey into the unknown territory of his final decades. A gift in many ways Walt gave himself in his willingness to forgive and his determination to love.

For my part, how can I not love the two people from whom this amazing man came? Thank you Mom and Dad for your willingness to let go and love, and for giving Walt the certain knowledge that he matters more than hurt pride to you. Happy birthday, Honey. Your goodness shines brighter with every year. May this new fabric not only endure, but also continue to grow more beautiful in the years to come.

Walt, sister Kerry, Mom, Dad


kario said...

Oh, Deb, I love this! I love that it was Walt who made the first tentative overtures and that he stuck with it. I am so pleased that his birthday was spent in this way - surrounded by people who love him.

Thank you for this story and your masterful telling of it. I hope that this cloth continues to strengthen for all of you.

Janna Qualman said...

Such a filled tribute! It's proof, this story, of how time and effort can heal. How allowing a little space for human error and growth can make all the difference.

Happy Day to Walt! And many blessings to this newfound peace and relationship.


This mending of family happens to most of us at one time or another if we live long enough and I have. There's nothing like having "whole cloth" again. We're each like pieces of a quilt, having our own places in the family. When one piece frays it affects the other pieces. And then the whole - not as pleasant to look at. We have to work to get it back as it was. Or make a new one. Happy Birthday and God bless. We have to do so much rising above in this life that it becomes second nature as we age. OR that's been the case with me.
BLessings to you and Walt and all who read this post. Beautiful story.

Kristen Torres-Toro said...

What an amazing story. Beautiful.

M said...

I'm brushing back my tears as I write this. Beautiful writing and a beautiful story forgiveness and love. Oh, that all families would find that same kind of forgiveness.


Journaling Woman said...

What a great story. I am glad it turned out the way it did. Family. (A big sigh)

Deb@RGRamblings said...

Wonderful story! Far too many people put off forgiving until it's too late. I love a happy ending :)

Wanda said...

"Happy birthday, Walt," she said, crying while reading his story.

Jessica said...

What a beautiful story. :-) Thank you so much for sharing it!

Midlife Jobhunter said...

"Their presence was sunshine - bright, healing, life-giving."

I certainly hope my sons and their wives will say that about me in years to come. What a lovely compliment.

Elenka said...

What a wonderful tribute, Deb. Glad to have Walt enter the '60' club with the rest of us. (HOW did this ever happen?)

Suzy said...

Not enough has been made of the fact that you have been the "seam" that holds this cloth together.

Love you.
Happy Birthday Walt!


Arti said...

truly great story..happy ending was typical of our bollywood films...


Amber said...

This is beautiful. It makes me let go of held breath, really. That feeling of relief that comes from letting go of pain, and letting the love take over. Quietly.

Happy Birthday to your love.


patti said...

Wow, Deb. YOU ARE ONE AMAZING WRITER. You had me gripping my chair arms. Gulp. Such a personal tribute, yet universal. Yes. I am there with you.

Blessings, my friend.
And thanks.

She Writes said...

Healing is a sweet thing!

patricia said...

Oh, my friend! I relate to you on a whole new level. How can our husbands be so forgiving and how could they be with us, unless they were? I am so happy to know that you have had such success in arranging a celebration of Walt. You are amazing. This made me cry.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

SO worth the wait! Love this, "and the lose threads of new relationship began to weave themselves into something resembling whole cloth."

What a great post! Love all the healing, love how you couldn't sign the birthday cards for awhile.

LOVE the new look of the blog, PERFECT, and that picture of you up there? HOW could that be any cuter? HOW?

Carrie Wilson Link said...

P.S. Not enough has been made of Suzy saying, "Not enough has been made!"

Kathryn Magendie said...

Deb.....this so beautiful, but I wouldn't expect anything less....you should gather together all your writings and put them together in a book for your family to keep...a treasure.

Kathryn Magendie said...

PS - it made me want to cry, too...

pps - I like your new blog look!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

IyhAml [url=http://www.outletmonclerspacciopiumini.com/]Moncler[/url] YqsJfz http://www.outletmonclerspacciopiumini.com/

EnxBex [url=http://www.vnikefree.com/]Nike Sko[/url] KhxTsz http://www.vnikefree.com/

BtgXhs [url=http://www.outletmonclerspaccio.com/]Moncler[/url] WvhHti http://www.outletmonclerspaccio.com/

YdhDyb [url=http://www.Jakker2canadagoose.com/]Canada Goose[/url] MqmPlg http://www.Jakker2canadagoose.com/

RebRme [url=http://www.parkajakker4canadagoose.com/]Canada Goose Jakker[/url] RlsSlm http://www.parkajakker4canadagoose.com/

JgmPor [url=http://www.jakke2canadagoose.com/]Canada Goose Jakker[/url] DevTbz http://www.jakke2canadagoose.com/

EjtUwv [url=http://www.canadagoosefromcanada.com/]Canada Goose[/url] RwrSax http://www.canadagoosefromcanada.com/