[originally written Aug 2008]
i’ve just been impacted by something i’m pretty certain i’ve always known but am hit by it as if for the first time….
grace—which can be learned or practiced—can also, by all accounts, be inherited. what follows is the basis of my hypothesis.
grace’s older son (“#1”) still spends quite a bit of time with our “branch” of the family. this is mostly because of the relationship he has with my older son (“#2”) and also out of convenience: he occasionally needs a place to crash when he’s in town.
this was the child who, at age 12, not long after grace and i married, screamed in defiance, “i hate you. you’re not my dad! quit telling me what to do!”
yeah, we had some rocky times during those years; but oddly, that’s not really what i remember about that relationship. like most blended families, we had our ups and downs. but by in large we got along about as well as most steps do. at the time, he may not have bought into the family 100% but by all accounts he did bond with not only his step-brothers but also me as well.
a few weeks after my request that Grace let me go (and all that implied), #1 was still occasionally using our family home (which Grace had left) as his “home base.” i remember the night i told him my motivation for what i was doing, he looked at me, tears in his eyes, and said,
“i really did want you and mom to make it. but you have to be happy. i want you to be happy.”
that, said in a moment of raw emotion, told me more about his character than i’d ever witnessed before. (and i’d had ample opportunity; he was—is—a good kid.)
fast forward almost 2 years…we’re sitting amid the chaos of #3’s 15th birthday party. #1 is there to “chaperone” along with #2 and his girlfriend. #1 and i are talking about things that had transpired over the past 2 years and our relationship. he tells me how he’s glad that we’ve been able to stay close. that he feels comfortable being in our home. that for him, nothing has changed.
…and that he thinks we have a closer, stronger relationship now than we ever did.
hearing him say that was absolutely amazing; but looking back, it wasn’t all that surprising, for his actions had already spoken those sentiments. you see, this person lived around some graceful people (mpd, jb, et al) oh and a graceful mother in particular.
as the conversation continued, he talked about defending his relationship with me to various members of his family, people from our former church, and anyone else who would question it. he talked about how ridiculous he thinks it is that some people don’t understand how he can still want to have a relationship with me, much less the husband, out of a sense of morality and allegiance to his mother and to “what’s right.”
for my part, i mostly just listened. i did tell him something along the lines of “who knows…maybe we would have this same great relationship even if things had worked out…” but that it “is remarkable to me that we were able to have this relationship now and how blessed i consider myself.”
and i mean it.
to his great credit, he treats #2 very gracefully. trying to get him to be more cooperative with us, think about his future, heck think at all–but all in a way that won’t alienate #2.
he also calls me from time-to-time. to check in with me and see how i am. check on the boys (the ones he used to call “the little boys”) and laugh about how #2 has apparently lost his brain. to hear details about the thanksgiving dinner i’ll be cooking (starving college students are so excited about and appreciative of food!) and ask if he could come if he’s in town. (like he has to ask!)
anyway, there’s the case for my theory.
maybe some people are just born with it.