Sunday, August 2, 2009

In the end...

As they say, all good things MUST come to an end, and I MUST end this chapter in our family’s history too. It’s taken a lot of time, but I feel that its rewards have greatly outweighed its costs, and I am grateful to those of you who offered your support and appreciation even when the skies darkened and the thunder rolled. So the first thing to make clear to any who anticipated “Armageddon” that it was ALWAYS intended as a joke, which I think eventually became clear, even to #1 son. There is, doubtless, a tremendous, and apparently unbridgeable chasm (miles… you can’t see “there” from “here”) between our respective political and philosophical positions, but I guess I love him, and sometimes, even like him. While I had to scale the walls, attack the keep and batter my way into its dark recesses, I was finally successful in finding his sense of humor, and we laughed… we laughed a lot. That was the bond that finally drew us closer. Probably the truest words were Naomi’s… “I think you’re both idiots.”

In the end, I found much to learn from… about the experiences I shared with my siblings and their reactions to them, which were obviously different from mine but which when woven together, portrayed a richer and more vivid image of my childhood. For those experiences before my time, I am grateful to my older and MUCH older siblings for giving me a fuller sense of what happened, where it happened and why I would eventually be blamed for it.

The great schism in our family occurred when Dad’s wanderlust propelled him to turn his back on all that connected him and Mom to our common origin and force an entirely new destiny on all of us. For Bob and Donna, Mom and Dad’s first, amateurish efforts at children, their lives were theirs to make as adults, based in the certainty and continuity of their youth in Pittsburgh, even when they found themselves in new and different places. For Patty and me, friends and family were left behind and our lives evolved into a kaleidoscope of changing schools, friends and addresses. We ultimately found ourselves in California during a period when change was the norm and the norms were always changing. While we held onto some core values (at least I did) we had to constantly adjust and (as the Garmin GPS in our rental car frequently said) "recalculate." I told Bob when I left that looking at one another was like looking “through a glass, darkly.” Paraphrasing Susan, she remarked how much I was and was not like her Dad. It did give me pause to wonder that old paradox of Rousseau… “Nature, or Nurture?” Had we never left Pittsburgh, would I have been “me”? Or would Bob and I be the best of friends as well as brothers because we would see the world with common eyes based on common assumptions?

This would probably be the best place to assert my earlier idolization and idealization of #1, who, until he showed me otherwise, could do no wrong. Well, that’s just growing up, but I will tell you that while Dad DID what dads do, Bob was much more my father figure because I felt validated by his attention and inspired by his example to read, write, study and draw. Bob and Naomi took me to see Ben Hur at the drive-in (they never touched, but then I stayed awake through the whole thing!) THEY saw it as its sub-title says, “A Tale of the Christ”. I saw it as… ROMANS! It changed my life and led me down very different spiritual and philosophical paths. So, thanks Bob! Thanks Naomi! Thank you for making this trip possible. Thanks for welcoming Patty into your home and allowing me to stay. Thanks for bearing with me to see that in the end, there WERE butterflies and rainbows! I will leave “The Last Word” to Patty.

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