Caring and forgiveness
On Saturday my son gave me a birthday bookmark he created on which he wrote some very kind words about me and my positive impact on his life. Years ago, my daughter created a container that held a bundle of strips of brief (fortune cookie size) statements of appreciation about me. I can go to the cat vase and pull out a slip to boost my melancholy mood. I love what both of my adult children have said to me. But…. I also have doubts about whether I deserve their words. As I look back, I don’t feel as though I was the father I could and should have been.
Yesterday, as I reread my son’s comment, I wondered “What a wonderful thing to say… but do I deserve his words?”
Then I recalled a moment about six years ago. During a visit at my son’s home I had the opportunity to meet a home visitor with Parents as Teachers who was visiting my preschool granddaughter, son, and daughter-in-law. As the parent educator was about to leave I told her, “I want you to know that my son is a better father than I ever was for him…. And I was a much better father than the man who raised me. And I accept that progression.”
That feels deeply right and honest to me. Perhaps forgiving oneself is the most difficult forgiveness to make. My past is not an excuse for my mistakes. Yet it does serve as an enlightenment. With enlightenment, perhaps there is a caring self-forgiveness.
And now I have the opportunity to be the best grandfather I can be.