copyright: Karen Larsen photography

I had the impression that I needed to call my mother today.  That is fine.  I haven’t spoken to her for a few months.  I made the call and we spoke.  We ended up speaking about things when I was a little girl.  I just rattled off some of the things I could remember:

  • Sitting in my mother’s bedroom on her bed while the hailstorm poured outside of our house.  Eventually, the hail destroyed our front room window.  There was glass and hailstones all over the front room.  We never felt scared though because we were safe with my mother.
  • My brother setting the field on fire during a very dry Texas summer.  He went to the fire station to be scolded on being more safe with fire.  Instead he got to turn on the fire truck lights and slide down the pole.  I was so jealous, I considered lighting the field on fire.
  • My other little brother got his heel caught in the spokes of one of my parent’s bicycles when they put him into the child seat and rode around.
  • My grandmother in Oregon made me a teddy bear for Christmas because I was living so far away from her.  I remember sticking my fingers through the wrapping paper and feeling his fur.
  • Throwing up outside of my mother’s bedroom door, in the middle of the night, because I was sick.
  • The scorpion falling off of the ceiling and into my bowl of cereal.
  • Hiding and crying in my bedroom closet because my mother lost a baby and it was a boy and I wanted a sister (I already had three brothers at the time) and didn’t think God loved me or was listening to the desires of my heart.
  • Jumping the fence on the side of the house and getting my shirt caught on the cap of my tooth.  When I jumped down, the cap came shooting off.  I searched in the grass for what seemed like a long, long time but couldn’t find it.  Late that night, my mother noticed, asked me about it, I feigned ignorance and she was sure that I had swallowed it without knowing and insisted that we go to the hospital and x-ray my stomach looking for it.  It was in the grass on the side of the house.  I never told my mother, until I was married with many, many children.
  • Catching lizards and climbing trees.  One day we even caught an armadillo!  That was a great day!
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
As we were talking, it came up that I had spoken with my father on Father’s Day.  We discussed my grandparents’ accident and how it has and did affect my father.  My father actually shared some of his feelings with me that Father’s Day.  My mother was surprised.  Then she told me some things about my grandparents and my father that I didn’t know.
  • My grandfather visited bars every night after work.  My grandmother would send my father to the bar to bring my grandfather home, almost every night.
  • My grandfather didn’t think that my father was capable of very much or that he had the skills necessary for helping him.  
  • My grandparents built a house.  My father was a plumber and had been taught to do that and some electrical work, and building skills by my uncle who was a contractor.  My father offered to help his parents with the work and save them some money.  Grandpa didn’t think Dad could do it and hired a contractor instead of accepting my father’s offer for assistance.
  • My father won’t accept responsibility for anything being his fault…..my brothers struggle with the same thing.  On the flip side, the women all accept more than their fare share of responsibility, even for things that are not their fault.
  • My mother tried to get my father to attend counselling for their marriage.  He wouldn’t go and said there wasn’t a problem.
  • My mother tried to get my dad to go on a second honeymoon.  My dad wouldn’t do that either.  Part of the reason was because the money came from my grandparents’ estate.
As we continued to talk about my dad and the things my mother knew that I had no clue about, my understanding and compassion toward my father grew.  I recognized how hard life must have been for him.  How unloved he must have felt and probably does feel.  His brother and sister rarely talk to him.  His parents are deceased.  My mother left him.  He feels like I abandoned him also, and many of my siblings can only handle so much of his toxicity before they have had enough and need some space.
copyright: Karen Larsen photography
Over the last year, I have learned a lot of things about my father that I didn’t know.  The information is helping to change my perspective of who he is and where he is and what are realistic expectations to have of him.  I am more capable of managing conversations with him, especially when he says something intended to hurt me.  I can let the comments roll off, and even better, I can place appropriate responsibility for behavior where it lies.  I can take what is mine, and I can give what is his back to him without accepting what isn’t mine and without being mean or hurtful.  Those skills have been invaluable in building something between us.  
The Lord has given me time and space to develop into a person who can manage some abuse and then appropriately place it back where it belongs without doing harm.  Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the doctrines of the gospel, I am more capable of properly handling negative emotion and abuse, without it affecting me like it used to.  I am healing.  Hopefully, I will be able to share some of those things with my father, and he will be able to heal also.
The other miracle that happened in our conversation, was that for the first time, my mother admitted that she had made bad choices that hurt her family.  In all of our conversations in the past, she has not expressed what happened in those words, where she said, I did this, and I shouldn’t have.  That is healing to me as well.  I don’t need her to apologize.  I just have wanted her to recognize that her decisions affected the rest of us and she was in control. She could have made a different choice.  Now, she can completely repent, heal and let go.  
I am so grateful for the principles of the gospel!!  How amazing they are when we live them and allow them to penetrate our hearts and become a part of who we are.  I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and His example of how to treat people who do wrong to us, and shows us how to forgive and then gives us an opportunity to practice!

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