A Rediscovered Country (Or how I learned to love Facebook)  

Posted by Alex Pendragon

Through a connection with one cousin and Facebook, unfortunately triggered by a tragic death in the family, I have suddenly made numerous connections with cousins and other relatives I have not seen for more than two decades. Some even longer than that. The last time I connected with the bulk of my rather sizable family was not at a family reunion, but at the funeral of my Grandfather. From the loins of my maternal grandparents sprang a family of brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, and cousins galore so large and widespread that if joined together we could populate a small country.

In past posts I might have alluded to some of my less-than-stellar experiences as a child, a product of divorce, deception, loss, and yes, betrayal. Yet, I cherish the fact that before she died, I was lucky enough to have been reunited with my Mother, and for an all-to-brief period of a few years, came to know her and discover some harsh truths about how my childhood turned out the way it did.

Memories such as these are NOT water under the bridge, spilled milk, or any of the many metaphors that people use to excuse situations that needn't have occurred the way they did. However, despite the wounds I carry deep inside from those experiences, I have been able to persevere, to grow and mature into the kind of man that I think my Mother was very proud to call her son. Could she have been more responsible as a young woman? Perhaps. Can I judge her for some of the choices she might have been forced to make in her life? I once did, based on bullshit information that almost prevented me from ever having a relationship with the one person who loved me more than anything in her life. But then I met her, and my heart melted, and I had a real mother at last, and I never stopped loving her.

Yet, even to this very day when perhaps I should have moved on with my life and told my inner child to just shut the fuck up and get over it………I still bear a malice for my sperm donor that equals the damage he inflicted on me by his betrayal and abandonment. This had such an impact on me psychologically that I deliberately choose never to have children of my own, for fear I could inflict on them in some fashion the fear, anger, disappointment and worthlessness my Father had burdened ME with. So, despite the likelihood that he went on to bear more children, I have always had the sad satisfaction that with any luck, his progeny ended with me. No reproductive rewards for the wicked, I've imagined.

Thus I have experienced parenthood second hand, never knowing the experience of diapers, boo-boos, monsters under the bed, and the pride of a report card with more grades over average than beneath it. Would I have made a good Father? I'll never really know, but hopefully, despite all those things any man might have done that he desires/needs redemption for, I hope I have at least become a good man. THAT his legacy can NEVER take away from me. Those that have at times called me Dad, well, they know full well how imperfect I am, and most of the time at least, have forgiven me. A man can never have too much of that.

Aside form reclaiming a relationship with my Mother, I was also lucky enough to have experienced, however briefly, experiences with many of my Aunts and Uncles, and numerous cousins spread across the South. Now, I have to be honest here; there was a time I held an equal disdain for many of those Aunts and Uncles that I felt had left me to my own devices when my Father abandoned me and I became a ward of the state, a "welfare" child, left in the "care" of people not related to me and lacking in the kind of love a child needs to feel he belongs……somewhere……to SOME one. However, I cannot know to what extent any of these relatives could have known they might have HAD to be there for me, and I must admit that there WERE many times that they took me in temporarily in helping my Grandparents burdened with a loose grand child. Thus, after many long years of introspection, I feel I have learned to lend forgiveness where it might be needed, but more importantly, to quit laying blame where it didn't belong. The day I could possibly have walked in their shoes, only THEN could I have the right to judge. Now, you might turn this around on me and ask me where my forgiveness is for my Father. It's a fair question. However, the ONLY answer I can give in that regard is that short of some extraordinary circumstance that FORCED my Father to abandon me while keeping me away from my own Mother or even any of my blood relatives, then there is no responsibility on MY part to grant him any sort of absolution and I am not, even after all these years, even CAPABLE of forgiving him for what he did. I cannot apologize for this and I have no desire whatsoever to do so. Yes, I know full well that this can be construed to be a hypocritical character flaw, and I accept that. Thus my faults betray me.

Yes, please let's not entertain the idea that I myself can lay claim to any sort of pristine character, short of perhaps the fact that I somehow managed to rise above those circumstances and never became prison material. The worst offense I have ever been CAUGHT at was speeding, but I suppose if you delved deeply enough into my soul you would find a darkness that itself could never know forgiveness. Nor would I dare seek out any sort of redemption for things within me that yes, horrify me to this very day. The religious amongst us want to lay the blame for the evil we do at the feet of a devil, a demon, or even some lack of grace, but I know that our animal natures are more than capable of conjuring up our own evil, thank you, without any supernatural assistance. And THAT is why our sentience is so precious, because it is this ability to think, to reason, to know sadness and joy, to at least LEARN right from wrong, that pulls steadily at us whenever we totter on the brink of our worst inclinations, and keeps most of us at least from going all the way over that cliff, plummeting into a hell of our own creation. To each and every person, related or not, hated or loved, passed by only briefly on my journey or spent in close proximity for any extended period of time, I thirst for forgiveness for any hurt, any pain, any slight, any angst of any degree that I might have inflicted upon you. That forgiveness I believe will serve YOU much better than it ever will me personally, for the wounds my own actions opened up will forever remain out of reach in the pit of my soul, deservedly so, deservedly so. Perhaps this perpetual pain is the only thing that can save me in the end. I am responsible for everything ME, no one else, and especially no devil or god. I am the one to be held accountable, and only by those who believe they have a call to account. Please know, I AM sorrow, and every smile I ever render, every joy I will ever perceive, till the day I die, is some pitiful payment on my debt.

But, getting back on track, I want to relate these emotions which have flooded me since I began to reestablish contact with cousin after cousin, and the joy and warmth I have been feeling at the loving embrace I feel from them, even from afar, so scattered across this country are we all. These young girls and boys I once knew so many years ago are all grown up, each contributing a seemingly endless number of fresh branches to our family tree. By the time I had experienced perhaps the fourth enthusiastic re-introduction to yet another relative, I had to retire to the shade garden, and try so very hard not to cry in the quiet solitude of our sheltering garden sanctuary. You see, it has all boiled down to the same response from all of them, even those who barely knew me.

Welcome home, Michael. We missed you!

This entry was posted on Monday, October 12, 2009 at Monday, October 12, 2009 . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .

5 slick comments

We do miss you and love you Michael. You just keep on smiling and cry if you need to, it is healing. Loved chatting the other night and look forward to seeing you again some day, soon I hope!

October 12, 2009 at 3:42 PM

I haven't had a chance to read your older post yet, but it sounds like you have had a lot to overcome from your childhood. I can tell you that many of the cousins have struggled (or are still struggling) to overcome various issues suffered in childhood. We have grown into adults as best we could, striving always not to make the same mistakes we lived. We have become good people each in our own way, despite family legacy. You are not alone anymore, you are with family now.

I look forward to getting to know you because although I know who you are I have never really known you!

October 12, 2009 at 5:35 PM

Gosh Michael, isn't this all wonderful?! I'm very happy for you for finding the love and family you thought you'd not see again. Keep smiling, as Tammy said, and cry if need be, but know you have family again. Wow, great!

October 13, 2009 at 2:26 PM

It's like my own personal "Amazing Grace": how SWEET the light.........grin.......

October 13, 2009 at 2:57 PM

Did I ever tell you this is sorta how I found my new career? A death in the family (my husband) led me to loneliness, which led to reaching out to old friends and classmates via internet. I started sending out a joke list specifically to show everyone that they don't have to treat me like a mourning widow; that I am still me. When I discovered blogging, it became an easier way to share those jokes. Five years later, this is my profession.

February 13, 2010 at 7:57 AM

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