Folks, I have the great privilege of hosting Joe Sewell today. In his own words, Joe: is a 50-year-old software geek living in West Melbourne, FL, after he and his parents bailed on the Eastern Shore of Maryland when he was 18. His lovely wife, Joy, has put up with him on more than major holidays for 19 years so far. Joe writes about Biblical stuff on his blog, , at Consider This, whenever he gets something to write on. Joe also participated in NaNoWriMo in 2010 and produced a weird self-published book, The Quantum Suicide of Schrödinger’s Cat, available on Amazon and CreateSpace. Joe also contributed a piece for Anne Jackson’s Permission To Speak Freely and for the Not Alone! anthology. He claims to have some other book ideas locked in his head, but cannot seem to find the key at the moment. Joe is scared of kids, but can handle his 5.3-pound Rat-Cha, Cocoa.
[Editor’s note: Joe is the process of creating a new blog, which has not yet launched. Also, my apologies for my tardiness in getting this up. It’s been a busy summer so far.]
Last year, for Father’s Day, Chad wrote a post on his father. I responded with a comment about my own father. He asked me to do a guest post. I was clueless. I still am, but I’m daring to follow it up for Father’s Day, 2013.
I’ll let the links tell the story so far. Suffice it to say, though, that I have few fond memories of my father. In fact, I hated him for years.
Pop died in January of 1993, in part due to his inability to accept doctor’s orders, in part due to his innate fear of being “lazy.” For him “lazy” was the absolute worst thing you can be. If there was something that “needed to be done” – and that was defined only by his personal definition – and you didn’t do it, even if you had a broken ankle, you were “lazy.” (No, I’m not exaggerating. He walked across the bedroom once on a broken ankle just because he couldn’t think of the term “answering machine.” I heard the bones crunching!)
Pop also followed the greatest commandment of the socially-inbred small-town culture I was born & raised in. That command was “thou shalt not hurt anyone else’s feelings.” Lying through your teeth, or a “little white lie” as it was often called there, was not only acceptable, but expected, even demanded. As a result, you could say and act one way to a person, then turn around and destroy them with gossip and insults behind their back. Denial of the back-biting was, of course, another expected “little white lie.” Of course, when “everybody” does this to “everybody” else, who do you trust? Nobody.
That’s why I could never believe that my father loved me. After all, I was born with what one doctor called “cold weather asthma.” It was worse before I had a tonsillectomy, but even at 50 I have to be careful in the winter, even in my Florida home. As a result, though, I couldn’t be out shoveling snow or moving hay down from the upper level of the barn for the sheep & other critters we had. Because of the low exercise I’ve always been obese, and can’t deal with the heat too well, either, so summer sweat was out as well.
Technically, according to my father’s own definition, I was one of those lazy, good-for-nothing people, simply because I didn’t stink of sweat at the end of every day. Of course, he’d never say that to my face. In fact, he’d deny it to my face. What did he tell others behind my back, though? For years I had no reason to believe that he didn’t hate me because I was “lazy.”
After he died in 1993, I was able to talk with my mother more. They had divorced after 25 years of marriage, because Pop had started down the path of physical abuse. More than likely it was out of frustration, but that’s no excuse. My mother is also 25 years younger than Pop.
One thing I found out (which I believe God revealed to me), was that Pop himself had been an emotionally abused child. His own father and his surviving brother hated him. Further research showed me when and why that probably happened. Pop and his two brothers had developed scarlet fever, a disease that is almost unknown in the USA today but was relatively common and often fatal back then. Moving a patient often was the worst thing you could do. When my father’s older brother, Franklin, started showing improvement, they moved him out of the room he apparently shared with Pop into his own space. Franklin died shortly thereafter.
It’s quite likely that they blamed Pop for his own brother’s death, even though he had nothing to do with it other than being the motivation for my grandfather’s decision.
A while after the Holy Spirit showed that to me, and my mother confirmed that “that sounds right,” I had a dream, one of those dreams where you know you’re dreaming and have some control over your own actions. In it I saw Pop chained to a wall. I’m not entirely sure whether the chains were my unforgiveness, or the results of his family’s emotional abuse. His father and brother were in the dream. I decided to fight them for Pop. I won, though at first Pop remained chained to the wall. Later that night, though, I revisited that same room in another dream, and the chains were empty.
I knew then that I had forgiven Pop for all the emotional abuse he directly or indirectly caused me. Some of the abuse came from the ridiculous notions people in that area had about how to treat others. Some of the abuse was probably the closest thing to a “generational curse” that truly exists, in that it was passed from father to son.
I still have to deal with the issues caused by the pain and the memories. I still have to deal with the notion that I’m not “good enough” for some things. My wife and I could never have children, except through adoption, but I was afraid of being a parent, and still am, because I didn’t want to pass it on. I still have to deal with chronic stress, anxiety, depression, and related issues, some of which may be a genetic thing from my Mom’s side of the family, but some of it comes from the abuse as well.
Sometimes the pain is still so great, I don’t believe I’ve forgiven him.
I choose to believe I have forgiven him, though.