Wednesday, April 03, 2013

the best they could do | a small idea from Raising Adults

The best they could do

I’ve come to believe we got here more or less by accident. This is not a theological declaration; I just don’t think anybody set out to screw up. I don’t think my parents or grandparents were particularly bad people. Broken, sure. But not bad. My mother grew up in a family of displaced farm people. My grandfather left his job as a traveling sales agent to work the land my grandmother came to own when she was widowed. They lost the farm. Then, when they moved to depression-era Jacksonville, Florida, they simply lost their way. I know my grandfather worked hard but he never found a path back to where he knew which way was up. They were off balance and they never recovered, financially or otherwise.
My grandmother was frustrated to death by the whole thing. Literally. She died too young. Afraid, angry, disappointed; she lost heart.
My father’s parents died before he was two years old and his older sisters and brothers raised him.
They did the best they could. Honestly, in what perfect world of yesterday did my folks learn parenting? Why would my father know the first thing about being a good father? At whose knee could my mother have learned the nurturing arts?
My parents were ordinary folk: broken, needy, imperfect...human. Could they have tried harder? I have no idea. They gave it their best shot. My sister turned out well. The jury is still out in my case.
I can’t find the bad guys in my family. The inept, unskilled, foolish, shattered guys, yes—in abundance. That’s what I am. I suspect it’s what you are, too, (though you’ll have to vote for yourself).
Eugene O’Neill wrote somewhere,* “Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is glue.” That the starting point for Raising Adults.
— from Raising Adults

* Eugene O’Neill, The Great God Brown, 1926, Act Four, Scene One

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