After talking to my best Boise girlfriend Beth and learning that she was going to be in Long Beach, Wa for a week and also being in possession of a Lincoln City beach trip I had won off of AMNW, I just knew that this was the right time to be heading off to the beach. I asked Kristi to come along with me.
Our first night was in Lincoln City. Dinner at the Rogue Room was delicious, especially since I have been on "air" sandwiches (and have lost 14 pounds!). I knew I would probably gain a few back on this trip, but every dunk and sip was worth it!
In the morning we were off to Seaside for lunch, FASCINATION and of course, photo booth shoots!!
Miss Kristi won twice!!
Then it was on to Long Beach to meet up with Beth. We were budget peers together for many years and she quickly became one of my best and truest friends.
The three of us spent the day eating and junking (which we always do REALLY great at!)
Ending the day with my kid getting to play with Beth's two kids
Kristi and I return back to the Chautauqua and awake to find......YIKES....we have no tire!! Apparently it is somewhere between Beth's place and our place.
Beth's husband Dennis comes to our rescue (he has HERO status now!). Beth and I hug goodbye once more. I know I will see her again, very soon I hope. Going back to college, my first Writing 101 paper last Fall Term was about Beth (more than a friend, she is one of the most influential people in my life).
The Drive to Forgiveness
After reading the “Reunion” by John Cheever, I was anxious to come to class to hear what others thought of it. How would they view that father? What were their feelings toward the son? My curiosity was such because it could have been me writing that story. Though the exact scenario was not the same, I felt I knew what the son was feeling on the day he met his father in Grand Central Station.
My father left when I was three. I would see him from time to time, but as the years went by I would see him less and less. As I got older those visits became more uncomfortable – not just for me, but I sensed for him as well. They were pleasant yet awkward. Neither one of us knew the other. My heart and soul craved having a father. The rest of my friends had fathers who were there every day – that’s all I wanted.
A typical adolescent year would consist of me sitting down in front of the black and white television and cutting pictures out of the holiday Christmas catalog. I would write down everything I wanted and include the complimentary pictures. I would seal the envelope and rush to the corner mailbox to send it off to him. Knowing that he was a very busy man, I wanted to make sure that he had plenty of time to do all of his shopping. I would wait anxiously for the box of presents to arrive. A check would come usually a few days after Christmas. He would come to town once a year and take my sister and me shopping. In my mind he was rich and famous; after all, he did tell us the story of selling Dean Martin a car one time. He always seemed to come to town with money. However, that was only once a year and we knew from Mom’s hushed conversations he never paid child support.
As I approached adulthood he started to want to be a part of our lives again. I believe it was somewhat forced by a woman he was with at the time. However, I also think there was a part of him that could now enjoy us as best as he knew how. By that time I had such bitterness inside that I was not going to allow him to get to know the real me. We would meet or talk but on a highly superficial level. I was not going to allow him the benefit of knowing me or my world. He had given up that right many years ago. I would accept his gifts and he would accept mine. Though we pretended that a relationship was there, we both knew there really wasn’t one. As the years went by, so did the pretense of a relationship. We went through the motions of father and daughter, but we were lacking in heart and spirit. One year I flew over to visit him for the weekend. It wasn’t so much to visit him, but I needed a short weekend away. I also had a friend that lived in a town close to his. She had just gotten home from having surgery to treat her cancer. I wanted to take her some flowers and visit with her. I also calculated that visiting her would fill my time so there was less time for me to spend with him. It was on that trip that my life turned onto a different path. This day I have no idea why I did what I did, but I asked him if he wanted to come with me to visit my friend.
“You don’t mind?” he asked.
“No, come with me.” I responded.
I do not know why I asked him if he wanted to come with me that day. Maybe I was having doubts on my ability to find my way to her house which was about an hour drive from his. I had been there before and I knew the way. We got into his car, but I insisted on driving. It was my way of being in control. Once we began our trip, he suggested a flower shop, claiming they had the best flowers. Though the shop was a bit out of the way, he was right; they offered the most beautiful aromatic and bold colored flowers I had ever seen. Our drive continued on with sporadic small talk. As we approach her house, I began to have second thoughts about visiting, and admitted this to my father. After all, she was just home from the hospital and I was unsure if she was up to having too much company. I told him that I was going to run the flowers and gift into her and he should wait in the car. I rang her doorbell and her husband greeted me. I followed him to where my friend was resting. She was lying down, but her eyes were opened as I entered the room. Our eyes met and our smiles were harmonious. I knelt down and hugged her tightly, explaining that I could only stay a minute because my Dad was waiting in the car. In a voice sounding with disbelief she says, “You go get him and bring him in.” I knew by the sound of her voice not to argue. I quickly went out to the car to tell him to come in. He seemed eager and excited to be included. The four of us spent the next two hours exchanging stories and laughs. Time passed easily. Eventually, I assumed my friend must be tired, and decided to leave. We shared our goodbyes and hugs, and my father shook her hand and thanked her for having us in.
For some unexplainable reason, at that moment all of my bitterness toward him vanished. I came to terms with our past and I allowed him into my present. We spent the remainder of the day laughing and talking as if there had not been decades of anger and resentment.
I often think about that day and what shaped his lifestyle and demeanor. At times, alcohol was a major factor. He viewed money as a god until well toward the end of his life. I think about how he was raised by a father who never allowed him a voice or any freedoms. Physical punishment was the norm. Talking was forbidden at their dinner table. Often I wonder how his childhood affected his ability to healthily embrace fatherhood.
Due to my experiences with my father, I was curious to see my classmates’ reactions to the father and son in Cheever’s story. I know there are others out there who have experienced similar relationships. I have read many self help books and listened to many experts. Their message is always that it is better to forgive. For many years I tried. What I realized that day was that there is no way for someone to force themselves into any act of forgiveness. Through my relationship with my father, I feel as though it is a gift that can only be received or given and not forced. Once it is bestowed, it can change a life forever. If not accepted, a heart remains heavy with sadness and resentment.
I talk to my friend often about that day. Her cancer is still with us; my father is not. I believe it makes her proud and enriches her life knowing that she played a pivotal part in the lives of my father and me. Before arriving at her house I had asked him to join me, something I had never done before. He was quite intent on taking me to the finest flower shop, going out of his way for someone he didn’t know. On that day, she allowed the two of us to share in her life, giving us a commonality. Though her body was so tired and sick, she still demanded that we “both” pay her a visit; she would accept nothing less. We both had to share her world and ultimately we ended up sharing our own with each other.
During my week at the beach, two of my closest loves in my life got dealt hard blows. It's hard for me to not think that life is not fair. But as I re-read this paper, I remind myself about the power of forgiveness and how it coincides with the power of love and how lucky and blessed I am every day.
Beth called when I got home to make sure we had made it okay. She also insured me that she would be coming to Portland to stay with me a while. And we ended our call the same as we have done for years, each meaning what they say and each needing to hear...."I love you".
The 70,273 Project and His Majesty's Hope
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