Forgiving the Unforgivable

He was drunken father, constantly under the wicked spell of hard liquor. The poison liquid would intoxicate his body and bring him home angry every night, so angry that he once hit his girlfriend on the head with a chair. She would have headaches for the rest of her life, reminders of the cruel man she had children with.

One of her daughters gave birth to me. Growing up, my mom would tell me how terrible of a father she had, how terrible of a man my grandfather was. I’d listen in horror.

He was rich, my grandmother wasn’t. Although he had a family with her, he refused to help raise his children. After all, she was merely his side woman, his play toy. Surely any children he had with her had no right to financial stability, let alone a decent father. He had other preoccupations such as taking care of his other woman who he also had children with.

Now she, he maintained.

He bought her family a house yet he couldn’t offer a plate of food to my mom and her siblings. It was the alcohol, they thought. Or maybe he was just an asshole.

My grandma said to me that she would never forgive him and I asked her why. I remember her eyes glazing over, her mind transporting her to many years ago. She didn’t hesitate to paint a picture for me. She told me that she always remembers the day that my aunt, tiny and trembling with joy, ran up to her father to show him her perfect report card. He didn’t look at her and walked away, leaving my aunt standing disenchanted and heartbroken.

My mom also found herself standing disenchanted and heartbroken as a teenager, when my grandfather promised to meet her at the local university to pay her tuition so she could become something in life. She stood there the whole day waiting, waiting, and waiting until finally he pulled up in his car slurring words that my mom could hardly understand. He told her he was going to Buga and that he would come back to pay her tuition—an hour long trip. My mom looked at her watch; the university was closing in five minutes. But before she could object, her father was gone.

This was years ago. And on this trip to Colombia, my mom insisted on seeing my grandfather. I didn’t understand why, but we did. On our way there, she told me that he had suffered a fall that resulted in a brain injury. She said that he lost sight in his right eye and that he often slips in and out of reality. When she saw him, my mom’s face softened and his face brightened. He smiled and looked at me and said that I was my mom’s spitting image. I politely smiled.

My mom sat with him the whole evening, sometimes in silence and other times talking. I was confused, utterly confused. Didn’t she despise him?

The next day my mom told me that she wanted to buy a walking stick and some razors for him despite the fact that she long promised that she wouldn’t give him a dime in his old age, because he didn’t for her. But her promise was long forgotten.

On our way to the store, I asked her, “doesn’t it still hurt?”

She looked at me and said, “not anymore.”

“Do you forgive him?” I asked.

“Yes, what he did happened long ago,” she responded, “I can’t hold onto this grudge anymore”

And with that, the years of pain, hurt, hatred came to an end.

My mom kept him company as he slept. Everyone in the house watched in awe.
My mom kept him company as he slept. Everyone in the house watched in awe.

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