Yesterday my brother visited- we had not seen each other in a long while due to the chaos of the world. He has spent half his life listening to other people’s pain and helping them to navigate to the shores of healing. He is a calm and gentle soul. We share a common childhood but as we reminisced, I realized how two people can be in the same environment and have very different experiences and memories. Ours was a household fraught of conflict laced with underlying tones of love. Our parents were broken people who as often broken people do spread their pain. It tempered both of us as adults we both are in the healthcare field helping others as this in turn helps heal us. As parents we both choose to release the pain and end the behaviors that shaped us, so we didn’t repeat patterns onto our own children- but I am certain we offered them other challenges to navigate.
Our Dad was a complex person- a former Marine, heavy drinking heavy smoking strict man who had a compassionate heart that sometimes surfaced with great acts of kindness –
We were out in the bay in our little motorboat when my Dad saw two men in the middle of the bay standing waist deep on a sandbar that would soon be consumed by oncoming tides. Obviously panic stricken with no watercraft in sight these men waved to our Dad. He headed over to them, two men, one was very different to my 4-year-old eyes, he had long curly blond hair and small breasts, the other I don’t recall. This man stuttered his gratitude as my Dad hauled them into our tiny boat and motored back to the shore without conversation. Safely on dry land dripping wet and shivering they again voiced their gratitude as we motored away. This incident was never discussed, as an adult I understand the enormity of what took place, two gay men left in the middle of the bay- neither could swim…as a child I witness an act of kindness, a man doing the right thing no matter his views, these were fellow human beings in distress, this was a silent lesson of compassion as many of our lessons were.
Often our brokenness is what tempers us to be the people we were meant to be. I have long since forgiven my Dad for his, and embraced him as a fellow human being that was often in distress doing the best he could from where he came from. In the end all that really matters is the love we shared, and the love we keep in our hearts. Once again, Love is all that matters, a silent lesson learnt.