Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Path

As I read a recent post on my dear friend Gus's Blog , I was touched and inspired as I reflected on my own upbringing and life in comparison. For Gus, he described his as "perfect". As Gus faces the harsh reality of  losing a loved one, my heart gets heavy not just for Gus, but it is also a reminder of being there myself less than two years ago. I totally get where Gus is at right now and at the same time I am intrigued how we are both "here" if you will but how much differed the path I took is from his path. I recommend reading his post linked above or the following won't quite be complete.

Much the same as Gus, I too had a "perfect" childhood. I grew up in an upper middle class family in a nice suburb in a small town. The 70's was a time where you felt safe growing up and the horrors the media shed light on today didn't send fear throughout the community and nation. Times were simple, fun and innocent. I remember spending my childhood at the pool and the golf course. I remember summers of tennis, baseball, vacation bible school and vacations. These were family vacations with an intact, fully functional family. It did at least, seem that way to me as I was ignorant to any issues that would soon enough rear it's ugly head. It was indeed "perfect".

Then my family got sick. It began with my parents growing apart. Although we went to church, sometimes, I now look back and think that we were not a family living in Christ. My parents grew apart and eventually divorced when I was 11 or 12 years old. My younger sister would have been around 4 or 5. Suddenly my life was no longer perfect. My mother went through years of not being well as she struggled to find herself. Alcohol and a desire to feel loved took her into a tailspin than lasted the rest of my childhood. As tough as this was on me it was even worse on my little sister. Through it all my mother was not able to be the mother she wanted to be. At 13 I moved in with my father. Although he certainly wasn't "perfect" himself, he did what he could, always made me feel loved and provided for my needs. Still I missed my Mom. I missed the "perfect" Mom I had. I look upon this with more clarity now than ever before, I realize how much resentment I had toward my parents but particularly my Mom. From the eyes of a child, she was all I could see that had changed. I think as I child I blamed her. Much of this time in my life is a blur as I seemed to have blocked much of it out but I know enough to know those weren't always happy times. My parents would rack up just short of 10 divorces between them.

As an adult I now have a better understanding of my mothers struggles. An alcoholic divorced mother with issues that went back to long before I was born. She was dealing with her demons. As she did, the Lord sent angels in to help her in seeing that I got the love and attention I needed in her absence. My Aunt Jean, who isn't even really a blood relative was the first. There were so many times my sister and I stayed with her while my mother sorted through the mess in her life. She brought a taste of "perfect" back into our lives if not only for a moment. As a teen living with my single father, I had Mrs. Nan Mays. The mother of one of my high school friends. For all purposes she was my mother too as I went through high school, which has to be one of the most difficult times in any one's life as they make the transition into an adult. She taught me so much about love, relationships, ethics, and values. Yes, God sent me surrogate mothers while mine was away.

As I went to college I began to face my own demons. Let downs and heart break led me to become a person I am now am not so proud of. However, it also gave me gifts such as confidence, determination, social skills and obviously an education. I was wild as bearcat and hard headed as ever. I didn't have parents at this time because I truly didn't allow myself to have any. I was making my own path and agenda. This is the format I chose until I started what I will call my rebirth.

After college I started a career. With that, I also had a desire for a meaningful relationship. I had become a whore monger at best and even though I certainly wasn't worthy, God send me another gift;  my wife. Immediately I was a better person. I became the person I really always wanted to be. This was my "rebirth". In turn, my Mom had finally started on her road to recovery although my sister had begun her spiral out of control. My relationship with my father was always good, yet I began to enjoy my time with him even more. I had a step father that was not only as good as I could ask for but he also became a close friend to my father.

As my Father approached his death on December 4, 2008, I realized that my family was whole again. We all loved each other through it. My Dad loved my Mom. My Mom loved my Dad, and my Step-Father loved them both. None of us are perfect but somehow this family was "perfect" again. I'm not quite sure how that's possible but that's how it feels. My wife and I both grew up in the textbook dysfunctional scenario, yet we now have three incredible children and are blessed beyond my belief. We are anything but dysfunctional. How is that possible? My sister is married to one of the most awesome guys I have had the pleasure to know and has a beautiful family. My Mom is nutty as a Snickers bar but I know she loves me and always has.

Maybe it was perfect after all. Nevertheless, I took a different path, with no regrets. I am most honored to walk alongside my buddy Gus -In Christ. I am so sorry that Gus is coming to the close of such a beautiful chapter in his life.

Mom - I love you. Although our relationship still mends, you are now and always have been my Mom.

Image by : John Harvey Photo

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