The Letter I Didn't Write
Friday - 02/19/2021 — It’s Friday. That means it’s long-memory-time. So, here goes…
My father and I never talked about forgiveness. It simply wasn’t a subject that came up. In fact, he and I seldom talked about much of anything. In any family conversation, my mother took the lead. I heard him joke once that he hardly ever had to say anything except, “Yes, dear.”
At least, at the time I’d thought it was a joke. Now I’m not so sure.
Did he ever take offense when she belittled him? I don’t know. I wish now that I’d had the words (and the gumption) to ask him. I think it would have helped me understand the concept of forgiveness a little better. I would imagine that he recognized the deeply-buried and long-held pain that let her lash out at others.
Throughout my life I’ve had a tendency to turn away when faced with controversy of any kind. Recently a friend of mine and I were both “attacked” in an email. The attacker didn’t even have the courtesy to send her comments to the two of us. She sent the email instead to two mutual acquaintances.
Was I ticked off? Yes. But I knew deep down that if she wants to slur my name, then I think it says more about her than it does about me. Did I immediately sit down and write to the offender? Well, no. I simply deleted her from my contact list. Letting her believe the way she wants to doesn’t mean I have to welcome her lopsided opinions into my space.
But my friend? She’s about as feisty as they come. You wouldn’t know it to first meet her, but she will defend her territory and her friends relentlessly. I know that for sure, because she read me an email she’d compiled. She said in no uncertain terms that that woman should apologize both to her and to me. Then she outlined the many ways in which that person’s assumptions about our actions were invalid.
I urged her not to send the letter. Just to hold it –in case the other woman decided to go further with her (unfounded) accusations.
Now I’m wondering if my dad ever wrote a letter, either on paper or in his head. If he did, I’m pretty sure he never sent it. After all, I learned my controversy-avoidance from him. He dealt with it by remaining quiet for the sixty-plus years of their marriage. I dealt with it by leaving home as soon as I possibly could.
Who’s to say which one of us had the better coping mechanism?