So, sitting at work the other afternoon and I grab my little box of raisins for a quick afternoon snack to get me through the rest of my day. You know what I mean, they come in packs of 6 all shrink wrapped together right? Everybody I grew up with would know because we all ate them at some point. Well, the brand I buy, Sun-Maid, puts a little saying on the inside flap of the box. So I pop the box open and take a look. It says, “Mending fences doesn’t always take hammer and nails.” Pretty profound when you think about it.
It put me in a mind to consider the recent months where my biological father and I have reconnected after what amounts to about a decade of not speaking. Not that we were ever that close, but a decade is a long time to not speak to someone. There is a lot of history there that I won’t bore readers with, but it boils down to him never really being there for me growing up. Or, when attempts were made, he bungled them pretty severely in the end. I am not saying that I am totally blameless in the relationship, but I was a kid, and then a teenager. He was the adult and there are times where I think I was more mature than I should have had to be. It has been a different experience reconnecting with the man who sired me and then walked away, for the most part.
I had never considered myself fatherhood material growing up or in my early 20s, but I knew I would never abandon any child of mine like he did. They would never know that sense of abandonment and loss that I experienced. Sure my mother remarried, twice in fact, but I never felt connected to my current stepfather. Not in the way a son is supposed to connect with his father. I always stubbornly lived my life by the memories and stories from my grandfather, and as I got older, by the stories my grandmother told me about him. He was my role model and father figure. He wasn’t perfect either, as I later learned, but he always supported his family.
I think about my family and I often compare it to my wife’s family. Her extended family is very close. My father in law and his siblings are always getting together and connected. Granted everyone lives fairly close to one another, but in today’s tech savvy world, there is no excuse to not be somewhat connected. My family is spread across the Midwest to the Southeast and I have gone years without seeing almost all of them. The last time we got together was when my grandmother passed away almost two years ago. I think that’s a strong commentary on the effect my upbringing had on me. Most people, even when feuding with their siblings/parents, hardly go that kind of time without seeing their siblings. Some days it bothers me that it doesn’t bother me more. Know what I mean?
Now that I have gone far afield of where this post started, I return to my little box of raisins to find I have eaten them all. All that is left is the empty box and a little inspirational phrase on the flap. I just have this advice readers, don’t wait too long to mend those fences, whether it takes a phone call, an email, a personal visit, or even that hammer and nails.