Saturday, January 19, 2008

A Great Manner of Things Will Be Well

I'd like to welcome Ryder Philip Palos into the world! John's Great Nephew was born at 6:21 yesterday morning and carries his middle name. You've got some big boots to fill little man - wear the name well. You have a huge, loving family surrounding you - may you never lose sight of that. All the best to Mommy (Leece), and Granny Krisy too!!!

It is indeed a desirable thing to be well descended, but the glory belongs to our ancestors.”

It's got me thinking about a subject that may be a tender one for some: Forgiveness and Reconciliation. Welcome to the Church of The Wayward Gypsy. Come on in; have a seat.

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

The ending of John's life was not entirely in vain. His illness and death brought about reconciliations in his family, as well as a deeper love and connection among all of them. I know that one of the things that always hurt him a lot was the fact that his family had been torn in so many directions. As the eldest of six siblings, he bore a sense of responsibility toward keeping the clan together. Even so, his pride, and the pride of others, kept that bond from being a reality for a very long time.

I've been - hell, I don't even know what word I want here - blessed, honored, humbled, awed, touched...? Whatever the amalgamation of those words is, I felt it in a bittersweet, beautiful way at some of the things I've watched John's family go through this past year.

One of the hardest phone calls I've ever had to make was to call and tell John's family that they'd better hurry on up here for one last visit with him. But they came, the whole great bunch of them, except for Krisy. In an attempt to get John to hang on and to sooth his restless soul, I told him that his parents were on the way. I didn't mention that the rest of the gang was coming.

He was asleep when they got here and his parents quietly walked in the room and whispered their hellos without disturbing his slumber. Then Tom and I walked into the room. John and Tom had been at odds over various things throughout the years and had kind of trashed the brotherhood they shared. When Tom walked in, he said, "Hi John." John's eyes flew open at his voice, he weakly said, "Tom?" and began to cry. So did Tom. He rushed to his brother's side, thumped him on the chest and wept, "No regrets, man." As they hugged and cried, I felt like a voyeur, so I crept out of the room. I have no idea what else might have been said between the two of them that evening, but I know it was all spoken with those three words, "No regrets, man."

Krisy. Krisy had been at odds with the whole family and separated from the family's lives for years (at least 10). I won't go into the details here, as it's not necessary, and also, because I don't know all of them and don't need to - what happened occurred long before I was hoovered up into the Johnson clan. Suffice it to say, Kris and John hadn't seen each other in over a decade, and didn't get to before he died. But his dying woke her and helped her change her life.

I invited her to the memorial in July. It was the first time I'd ever met her. I immediately enveloped her in a big teary hug, told her I was glad she could be here, told her I was so happy to finally meet her, and told her it had all been forgiven. In holding John's hand through that final week, I knew that he'd forgiven everyone, including himself. Krisy kept thanking me, apologizing, and saying, "I wish..." I finally said to her, "You can't beat yourself up. You can't go back. All you can do is go forward from here. Honor the man by living your life well."

"To make no mistakes is not in the power of man; but from their errors and mistakes the wise and good learn wisdom for the future.”

I've seen her make great strides toward doing just that. It's been a wonderful thing to see her bloom, and an even more wonderful thing to get to know her. She's a beautiful soul and it's a shame so much time was wasted. My own great regret is that I didn't allow her to come and see John one last time; I didn't open my own head space to the possibility of that final hug for her.

The lesson here is obvious. If you're at odds with someone. Talk it out, find forgiveness, reconcile. Sometimes the talking isn't even necessary. Sometimes all it takes is a well spoken, "I'm so sorry." I've had my own moments of family strife that had to be dealt with in such a fashion. In retrospect, I'm glad I was able to change my own attitude before it came down to apologizing in a moment of crisis.
Treat every moment as though it may be your last. Treat every person as though it may be the last time you see them. Make your love unconditional.

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, because you never know how soon may be too late."
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Invado pacis.


  1. Once again, dear, you've spoken my heart's song.

    This is one amazing journey we're on... so glad to know we're on the same page ;-D

  2. and what a handsome young man he is! you are truly a blessing to our family and i speak for everyone. WLY girl :)

  3. Laura, it's a helluva road, init? Glad to have you on my path - it'd be a far lonelier walk without you.

    Terri, I am equally blessed by all of you. I don't say it enough, and probably show it even less, but y'all do mean the world to me. To twist an old phrase, you may have lost a big brother, but you gained a big sister. No, you can't borrow my sweater.

  4. LOL sister....them thar sweaters of yours are too small anyways ;)


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