Is yours a picture perfect family? Honestly, if you’re looking to photograph one, there is no sense stopping by at our place. If I’m in the picture, it will take more than “photoshop.com” to make it right. I am not the perfect husband, perfect parent, or perfect anything for that matter. Of course, I credit that to my failure to be the perfect child. I had two brothers that came close, but I was way back there somewhere in the background. I was the “yes, but kid” who always wanted to tell my side of the story long after anyone had an interest in hearing. I guess that’s enough said, after all you get the picture and it isn’t pretty.
Consequently, I started out wrong and once a tree is leaning too much in one direction or another, it is going to take a lot of work. We’ve got a great family and love is the glue that keeps us stuck together, but we’re not perfect. I’ve admitted often, I don’t always get it right. On the other hand, the General is never wrong. Could that be right? I don’t think so. Under the concept of transparency, we’re a mess but we have fun.
I worked with kids from hard places before I had kids of my own. I remember being on the witness stand in a child welfare courtroom once and the defendant’s attorney asked me under oath: “Mr. Forrester, Do you have any children?” I answered “No”. I almost said, “We’ve got one on the way”, but somehow that didn’t seem germane to whatever life lesson the defendant’s attorney was attempting to impart at my expense. Fortunately, for once in my life, I put the brakes on my words before they rolled out of my mouth. I guess you could say: “That is one near miss that I remember.”
I was a responsible dad, but I wasn’t perfect. I once said something really inappropriate to my son very late one night or maybe it was very early morning when he came rolling in long after curfew and sometime before daybreak. He was probably sixteen-years-old at the time. In looking back, it was not one of my prouder moments. I should have saved the lecture until the following day.
My demeanor was somewhere beyond calm and my voice level was loud. Like I said, it was not one of my finest moments. At some point I suggested he look at the “@%$! Grandfather clock”! I was loud enough that our conversation awakened his little sister who had been sound asleep.
I’ve never forgotten that experience. Of course, neither have either of my kids. That was thirty years ago. Somehow the memory hangs on and it represents a regret. I hate it, but I can’t change it. As a dad, I didn’t always get it right.
I think it is universally true, “Teenagers can be tough”. Of course, it can also be tough to be a teenager. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t sign on to be an adolescent again if my life depended on it. My mother always said, “These are the happiest days of your life.” I wasn’t an unhappy kid, but I don’t want to do it again. For that matter, my mother didn’t have it right. I had a good childhood, but being an adult is better than being a child most of the time.
If I had it to do over, would I make any changes? That’s a tough question. How about you? I wish I could say that I’ve learned from all of my mistakes, but I’m not really sure that’s true. I’ll probably never drive a car 130 mph ever again, but my sense of being alert and on top of my game was never better. I was invincible even if I had a host of guardian angels working overtime.
I have a friend who is probably approaching five years on either side of sixty. I’m not good at guessing anyone’s age. I occasionally look in the mirror when I’m shaving the lower part of my neck and have the thought that I look old for fifty. Consequently, I’m not going to even wager a guess on my friend’s age.
In the recent past, she was in for a real surprise. How would you like to be sixty and meet a half brother you never knew you had? We live in a technological age where family secrets aren’t necessarily family secrets forever. All you have to do is spit in a cup and send it off for analysis and you might find yourself linked to someone else with the same kind of spit. Ancestry.com kind of puts it out there and their “match” is based on DNA and it is not refutable.
I’ve known one lady during the midst of her forties that learned from her mother that she had a half-brother who was the oldest. He was placed for adoption shortly after his birth. Her mother was unwed at the time and was not at a place where being a parent seemed like a good choice. Consequently, attempting to piece together a family with a forty-five year gap can be both challenging and exciting. Can you imagine?
My fantasy didn’t happen often, but I remember during my adolescent years I had the passing thought more than once that my family was not my real family. If we were really kin they’d understand the importance of staying up way past bedtime and sleeping a little later in the morning. Besides that, if my real parents had a lot of money, it could open a lot of doors. Color it anyway you want, but those were childish thoughts. Today in the midst of adulthood, I wouldn’t opt to change a thing.
I have a friend who met her half brother for the first time this week. Unlike the story of the mother who placed her son for adoption, her story and that of her half brothers’ didn’t have that kind of common denominator.
It was many years ago and her dad wasn’t always the pillar in the community that he later proved to be. In fact, during the early years of her parent’s marriage, her dad liked to party and play music in dance halls. His absence from the household on Saturday nights wasn’t particularly well received by the Mrs.. Consequently, she gave her “5-string banjo pickin’ or playing” husband an ultimatum. You can stay at home and be a family or you can just leave. But you can’t do both. He opted to go with “family”.
What her mother never knew and it only recently came to light, her father had a son with someone he met at a dance. It is an interesting story. The half-brother dropped into my friend’s world as a most probable match through ancestry. com. If you need further proof, did I mention the half brother plays a “5-string banjo”?
I don’t guess there are any picture perfect families. But how nice to know that regardless of missed time shared, once the secret is no secret, family mending and bonding can begin.
All My Best!