Thursday, January 08, 2009

Honor Your Father and Mother

My mother-in-law hasn't spoken to her daughter since she got back from her house during Christmas vacation. My sister-in-law is not my favorite person, ever since that time she told me I wasn't part of the family. It's also hard not to judge someone who skips out early on her own father's funeral and refusing to attend the burial because she wanted to go to a local restaurant with friends.

I grew up attending a Catholic school and all throughout my childhood, I could never parse these people, these Catholics who attended church on Sundays and Wednesdays and, at the same time, show such racism toward me. Not everyone, of course. My best friends have been Catholics and I married someone who was raised Catholic. As my friend Andrew says, "I guess Jesus feels like he owes you!"

On Christmas morning, Peter's mother wanted to attend Christmas Mass, which she does every year. Her daughter knew that Peter's mother wanted to go with her, but snuck out of the house without taking her. Since I studied the Ten Commandments in kindergarten, I know that the fifth commandment in the Catholic faith is, "Honor your father and mother." In fact, that commandment is listed above, "You shall not kill."

I always felt that this meant God viewed honoring your parents as more important than not committing murder.

This is the sort of behavior which always annoyed me about certain practicing Catholics. They will cut you off to get a parking spot to make it to Church on time. They will leave their mother at home to go to Church to act pious.

When she arrived back home, Peter's mother had it out with her daughter and during their argument Peter's sister said, "Maybe I'll be DEAD by next year and you won't have to deal with this at all!"

Of course, Peter's mother played right into her hands by crying and professing her love. This behavior is so manipulative. Peter's sister basically avoids being called out for bad behavior by taunting and scaring her mother. I don't even know why she bothers inviting her over the house if she's just going to ignore and terrorize her all week.

This reminds me of a time I had a huge argument with my father during my adolescence. We have a very strange relationship. I met him when I was five years old because he had come to the US to make a living. During my childhood, he wasn't a very good father. Seeing him become a better father to my sisters has healed some of what I endured.

I can't remember what we were fighting about, but he turned to me and said, "You can blame me for every unhappiness in your life. I know that I've given you many things to be unhappy about. But I also know that I've given you joy. It's your choice, what you choose to keep and what you choose to throw away."

It was the turning point in our relationship. Sure, he still drives me crazy. The other day, as I was on the telephone with my sister, I heard that timbre in his voice as he was talking with my mother. The one that made me want to run to my room and hide and I thought, "Hey! I'm THIRTY-FIVE YEARS OLD. I can just HANG UP THE PHONE and not have to hear this!"

When I was young, I would cry in my grandmother's arms and she would say, "He's not the best father in the world, but he's not the worst. There are some people who have burned their children alive."

Thanks Ama. Way to put that in perspective. At least my father doesn't use me for kindling.

Peter's mother gave birth to four healthy children. Three of them seem to hate her. And even though she may not have had the best capacities to guide her children through life, they are all still healthy and successful, with beautiful families and large homes (multiple homes, even). I'm sure there are thousands of people out there who would chop off their leg to have what these people have. However, they seem so unhappy and they harbor so much resentment toward their mother, which I don't understand. I often wonder about the good memories. Where did they store them?

I hope to be the kind of person that will remember the good things. It's not easy. I think it's easier to harbor negative thoughts and resentments. I guess that's my new New Year's Resolution. To be more POSITIVE!

To start, I guess I should stop grousing about how horrible my sister-in-law is.

No comments: