Forgiving Our Fathers
When a father and son are estranged, the pain can be deep. But sometimes it just takes just one person to take the first step.
BY: Tim Russert
-- Marla Kovatch, Flanders, NJ, speech pathologist, daughter of Michael S. Bailleau, produce manager
The Shell Game
I'm tempted to ask them what happened, but I'm going to accept it just the way it is.
Every birthday or Father's Day, I would buy Dad a bag of white pistachio nuts. We'd devour them together and then play tricks on each other by hiding bags of shells where the uneaten nuts used to be. How delighted he was when I fell for it and reached in to find a handful of shell! And I was delighted when I could trick him back.
I thought of his almost daily, my anger mixed with a yearning for reconciliation. Years passed with no contact until my first child was born. As a new parent, I would not imagine feeling anger and disappointment sharp enough, or pervasive enough, to ever cast off my child. How could Dad have done so, felt so? How wounded my father must be, how damaged his soul from his own father's stern disapproval that never abated before he died. While nursing my son one day, I decided I would reach out to him.
On Father's Day I mailed him a bag of pistachios. I sent no note. He sent me back the empty shells. No note. But I smiled, and I imagine he did too.
--Name withheld at the request of the author, who reports that the process of forgiveness is ongoing and can be a tough nut to crack.