Eight years ago, after visiting my parents’ graves in Hastings, Michigan, after arranging flowers and sprinkling birdseed to attract the finches my father loved, and after wiping off the moss that had already started to spread on their headstones, I went with my husband to our place on Lake Superior, sat in an old blue chair that belonged to my husband’s cousin’s mother and I wrote the story of my 12-year estrangement from my parents.
I wrote the piece in one sitting and before I got up out of the chair, I sent it to Newsweek to be considered for their Lives column.
A few weeks later, an editor called me to say they wanted to print the piece.
She asked me questions, wanted to know the details, wondered why a 12-year estrangement would be the result of a bad telephone conversation with my mother. There was no good answer for that. There was only my story. Here’s what happened, I said. This is the bad thing that happened to me and my family and this is how we were redeemed. This is the grace fractured families hope for but avoid mostly because it involves shedding everything that came before. That, by itself, is a foreign concept to most people, certainly it was to me until I surrendered to reconciliation.
She decided to believe me. Not a word in the piece was changed. I learned then that when a story is through and through true, it will arrange itself on a page, each bead in exactly the right place on the necklace. For that time and place in the writer’s heart.
Today, an old friend mentioned this piece. He said it should be required reading for families. So I’m linking to it here. It’s called The Power of Saying You’re Sorry.
I end with saying again what was on the billboard I saw on the way to reconciling with my parents after ten years gone: “If you think it’s too late to make things right, you’re wrong.” Maybe this will help someone you know. Maybe it will help you.