The Italian elderly man wore the face of an ancient patriarch as he marched out orders in his broken English. He urgently needed to renew something he no longer really needed. Carefully, he monitored every move as his middle-aged son drove him to his destination.
“Turn right. Not that way. Bend the wheel further or you'll hit that car.
Stop in front of the yellow post.
No. Not there… closer to the entrance.”
Caught in this hail storm of directives, the son felt more like teenager than a veteran driver in his fifties. When things didn’t go his way, the elderly man broke out into something part way between a tantrum and a panic attack. That day was no exception. When asked respectfully to calm down, he got hot and defensive and sulked silently in resentment the rest of the way home.
When they returned the ordeal apparently had only begun. The elderly man wanted to justify his behavior while his son wanted to hear no more. Both men exchanged harsh words that resulted in some out-of-control behavior. Finally, as if entering a temporary state of insanity, the elderly man broke out into a torrent of verbal abuse and curses as one pours acid into a fish tank.
The days that followed ticked away painfully slow as everyone retreated to their corner. Heaviness mingled with restless thoughts. Father muttering something to himself; son trying to block out his father's despair. The rest of the family were ineptly caught between the two opposing forces.
When it comes to family conflicts, the redemptive lessons hide themselves like insects of the night. You can't distinguish the guilty from the innocent; the abuser from the injured. It's tempting to sweep it under the carpet. It’s easier to focus on the irrational and combative behavior while forgetting the destructive inner brooding that can wear out the physical and emotional self. The concept of forgiveness can become insurmountable because it’s often muddled up with religious clichés. What remains clear, is that no one can win while hard feelings prevail.