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It Didn’t Matter Anymore, Grandpa

I don’t feel like the issue was fully resolved. I don’t feel that you completely understood where I was coming from or just how much you hurt me in those years of disconnect.  I don’t think you fully took responsibility for your part in it, though you apologized in your own way-not really ever using the words “I’m sorry.”

But it got to a point that I didn’t care. I hated not having you in my life and not really knowing my kids. I hated them not knowing you-the man who had had an immeasurable impact on who and what I had become.  The hole didn’t go unnoticed. I spoke of you often and then, like today, I felt you in many of my words and actions. There were many, many days in which I wanted to let it all go, and I would call you and see that you were still bitter. I don’t blame you entirely, perhaps I could have put in more effort.

I know that in that time (the few years in which we only spoke a couple of times a year), all the comments you made about being disappointed in me, or about my “head not being in this world” came from a place of hurt.  I know from experience, that pain often manifests itself as anger and bitterness. I know it was hard for you when I “stopped needing you” as much, as my own family was forming. What you didn’t understand was that I still needed you, just in different ways.

So, perhaps the God-ordained timing was just right, perhaps we were both at a place in which it didn’t matter anymore, but that one summer visit changed it all.  I am thankful that I had an “excuse” to come over to see my Aunt, (I’m not sure I would have come otherwise,) so I could see that the bitterness was gone. I felt we were finally both in a place to let it all go and just be Grandpa and Cyndy again. I told you I was sorry I had stayed away so long, and you told me I had misunderstood the things you had said to me about not finishing college to stay home with my son, and the comments you made about me homeschooling the kids as they got older, and that you didn’t mean it the way I took it. In my mind I disagreed, I still thought you had meant them exactly as I took them, but at that point it didn’t matter anymore. You told me you were never truly disappointed in me, and I took that. It was enough. You were 87, I believe, and I knew we were limited on time.

We found out a year later that cancer was widespread and aggressive. My emotions were so mixed as I was thankful that we had reconnected, and deeply saddened that we didn’t have more time. My older kids would remember you, but my little guy definitely wouldn’t.  I was thankful that you got to see me in my girls and it brought you back to when I was that age. And I will forever be thankful for that visit, right after I found out about the cancer, when it was just you and I, and I was your little girl again. It could have been 25 years prior and it was just us.  We reminisced about the past and you retold your favorite stories about us, and we laughed, and I cried. I told you that I wished we had more time. You said, “I guess our time was always limited, we just didn’t know how limited.” More words of wisdom, Grandpa-good for everyone to remember.

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Subduing the Hulk

I was a big fan of Mr. Rogers as I was growing up, so I was excited for my kids to watch the spin off called “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.  In case you aren’t familiar with it, it is about the family of Daniel Tiger-the puppet from the the Neighborhood of Make-Believe to which Mr. Rogers always referred.  In each episode, Daniel Tiger learns a life lesson set to a catchy tune. Today’s was about empathy (you have to sing this)-“Think about how someone else is feeling.”  I thought to myself, “That’s good word Daniel Tiger’s mom.  Adults need reminded of that too from time to time.”  Put that together with another of my favorites (remember to sing it)-“When you feel so mad that you wanna roar, take a deep breath. . .and count to four,” it makes a powerful statement about handling conflicts.

It’s hard to keep our cool when we feel that we or another member of our family is having our character and integrity attacked; for instance if we feel that we are either directly or indirectly being called a liar.  Sometimes counting to four just doesn’t cut it. Sometimes we need to sleep on it before responding to a text or email that we find aggressive.  Sometimes it helps to tell someone who is wise and mature and has similar moral integrity what we are thinking of typing before we send it.  If we are talking face to face, we can talk slowly and pray between sentences; and of course, there is always walking away.

We can’t let pride get in the way. Our natural inclination can be to respond in kind, with what we think is a better insult.  After all, we don’t want to let someone walk all over us or treat us badly.  We want to win the battle. However, no one wins in a situation like that. We are called to “be angry and do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26) and to be “blameless” (Ephesians 1:4, Genesis 6:9, 1 Thessalonians 5:23, etc.).  That can be super hard.  Sometimes I feel like Bruce Banner trying to subdue the Hulk. I have to admit, there are times I start to turn green and growl and I have to turn to God for help before I turn into the monster.  Thankfully, God’s grace covers that too.

It is possible to defend ourselves and our integrity without stepping into sin. We can pray for God’s direction, pray for the other people involved, and even ask God to show us their point of view. Sometimes it is a misunderstanding and can be cleared up if we can just talk it out.  Other times, we need to acknowledge that we have done all we can, we need to let it go, and we need God to take care of the rest.  The important thing to remember is that we only “win” if we follow God’s direction and please Him above all else. We need to remember that no matter what others may say about us or our families, He knows our heart.  He truly knows us. Pleasing Him is what’s important.