A True Story, a Difficult but Beautiful One…

pere-fils

(ENGLISH TRANSLATION OF THE PREVIOUS FRENCH ORIGINAL POST)

Being since childhood the intimate friend of the second daughter in a family close to mine, I have been able to follow through her the inner vicissitudes of her father’s life, with the important repercussions they have had on other members of that family, especially the son, her younger brother. The case of this father and son, and their inner itineraries, seems to me so interesting – and indeed so moving – that I wish to present it here today:

As my friend and her elder sister – at that time the only two children of the radiant young couple their parents formed – had originally known him,  their father was very kind, indulgent and tender with them, even enjoying making them laugh as often as possible. He was happy then, at the dawn of a promising career he truly loved, in this French West Africa (the old A.O.F.) that no one suspected was living its last decades. He was gloriously graduating from “Colo”, as it was familiarly called, one of the renowned French ‘Grandes Ecoles’: the famous “Colonial School” where the future “Administrators of Overseas France” were receiving the more than encyclopedic knowledge that they would need for all those most varied and unexpected situations they could possibly have to face once in the heart of Africa.
Throughout her childhood in Africa then, the only occasion when my friend had seen her father really angry was when she inadvertently put him in an embarrassing situation while he was in the exercise of his duties, having presided over the Distribution of the Prizes at the end of the school year, and preparing to be taken back to their home:
The official car was waiting (with him in it …) for his two little girls (including my friend…) to have joined him as soon as they finished singing the last song with the rest of the Choir. Her elder sister, as she was older, had recalled the instructions to rally the car without delay, but she, being too young still, had forgotten … As she, smiling, suspecting nothing, finally came to the car, her father had already at long last sent away the brass band gathered as usual to salute his official comings and goings, and had ordered that the soldiers also quit standing to attention. What a public humiliation for him that he had made everyone wait for him by the fault of such an unconscious and irresponsible
little girl! …  My friend, making herself very small in one of the corners of the car, had seen him mute with fury in the other corner, and he had remained that way throughout the journey. Even when back home, he had not quieted down and not loosened his teeth for the rest of the day, not even talking to his wife – and my friend, despite her young age, realizing for the first time the important role of her father, had also realized with amazement and a certain fear that this silence was the only way he had found to prevent his intense anger from exploding in a way he would later regret .

Years later, my friend remembered this incident, she said to me, when this obstinate silence became her father’s permanent and desperate attitude to keep as much as possible under control the helpless rage which had been in him since the so sad results of Decolonization in ex-French Africa:

He had somehow accepted the interruption of his own career in full swing, plus the grief of separation from all those peoples he loved and who loved him so much that they had implored the officials, but in vain, that he would be allowed to stay; he had done his best also to shrink to the size of “the Métropole”, this France which now could only offer him work within its own borders, and of a bureaucratic kind, honorific certainly, and well paid, but that he had ended up rejecting, because his heart was not in that kind of work, and he preferred to be content with an early retirement – half a retirement pension only, therefore, for the life of the entire family – rather than continue this bureaucratic farce, for him unbearable after the free and vast life he had known, and had originally chosen.


What had completely annihilated him, however, was not so much his personal misfortune as the much bigger one he could see unfolding abroad: all those countries he had cherished and helped as well as he could before, falling one after the other into chaos after their Independence, the small tribal chiefs resuming their reciprocal wars and ruining everything in their way. As this disaster became more widespread, my friend saw her unfortunate father helplessly watch the destruction of all that his life had contributed with so much love to build, his poor life now having itself become useless and meaningless, in a world that also seemed more and more meaningless.
After several years like that, he had taken refuge like a recluse in his own apartment, the apartment he had at least been able to buy, providentially, on his return from Africa, for himself and his family, in a beautiful part of the Parisian far suburbs. Instead of looking for the company of the other ex-administrators who had also come there, he came out only for the groceries needed by his wife, and for the Sunday Mass, which was always dear to his heart, for he had always been very pious and found some comfort in his faith, still intact despite all these trials.


But the misfortunes that had befallen him were not yet over: another element in his life which had hitherto been another source of comfort and even hope – that long-awaited son, born at last just a few years before the final departure from Africa – suddenly became for him, as that son was growing up, the very opposite of comfort and hope ….
As long as he was little, this beloved son had of course corresponded to the gift of heaven that his father saw in him; but becoming more and more himself with his own qualities and defects, he corresponded less and less to the expectations that his father had of him as of the son who was going to “continue the lineage” (Khalil Gibran and his famous “Your children are not your children, etc…” were not yet known !…) and to make his parents proud in the same way that he himself, his father, had made his own parents proud…
The son became, little by little, without realizing it, the living negation of all that his father had expected – and the father, very disappointed, suffering terribly from this very unpleasant but increasingly obvious fact, about which again he could do nothing, felt his love for his son being put to a severe test.
Though gifted for a lot of things, the son, when becoming a teenager, did not make the choices his father would have made in his place, and his father, in spite of himself, was increasingly angry with him for being so different from himself psychologically, and on the contrary, in some respects, so similar to some other adults whom he had never appreciated much.

The relationship between the father and the son inexorably deteriorated, despite all the efforts of the father to remain a father worthy of the name, that is to say, full of love, just as he had been before for his daughters .
 And, added my friend, she and her elder sister, now grown-up, were no longer there to  act as buffers and try to remedy the situation. Her father had always had great respect and appreciation especially for her, to the point of keeping quiet when more than once she had reprimanded him indignantly after he had occasionally poured out his murderous mood upon his wife or some other person present: harsh and hurtful words had become his specialty as soon as some visit forced him to leave this solitude in his closed room and this silence… that he was imposing to himself, precisely, to try to prevent those overflows! …
But the first daughter had married; as for my friend herself, the younger daughter, she had had to go to another region of France for her first post as a young High School Teacher, and that, before this antagonism from the father towards the son (still small then) had become manifest; so that she knew nothing of what had followed her departure. it was only during a visit by her whole family in the town where she taught that, during the meal at the restaurant offered by her father with all his best intentions, he lost control over his words to his son, and my friend was a direct witness to the odious manner in which her father ridiculed and humiliated the poor adolescent as if by pleasure, even in that public place and in front of her. Outraged, she jumped up and threatened to leave the table and the restaurant if her father did not immediately stop this detestable behavior.
The father, ashamed, returning to himself thanks to his daughter’s indignant outburst,  behaved normally throughout the rest of the meal, but when they finally left her to return to Paris, her heart was heavy and she did not know any more what to do:
She could exactly understand, alas, how her father, in his own endless suffering, always  repressed for so many years, and then redoubled by his son, so disappointing for him, whose mere presence was a constant and
ill-restrained irritation (Elizabeth Kübler-Ross was not yet famous, it was not known that banging hard on old directories or thick pillows is a great way to void all the accumulated suffering that might otherwise spill out as violence in one form or the other). And yet my friend could neither excuse the conduct of her father nor leave her unfortunate young brother in such a deplorable situation.
But in fact what could she do, when she herself had no right to legally claim the child’s custody, and she felt barely able to truly educate herself, she who was so intensely  searching for the meaning and purpose of life, beyond the spontaneous and sincere but still too limited faith of her own youth?
She had rejected the golden cage of an “ideal” marriage already planned, that would have prevented her from remaining herself; she had no home, no real family to offer to her brother in this young age where he still needed that …
It had been a very painful heartbreak for her, my friend
confided to me, thus having to choose, so young still herself, between trying to rescue her younger brother, or continuing to explore alone her own life, able as she was to start discerning in it a course and a direction totally off the beaten track –  a direction deeply fascinating and appropriate for herself, certainly, but very likely not right at all for her brother, who already had become for her, in just those few years of separation, almost a stranger…
Finally, she decided not to intervene in her family, even temporarily during her holidays, for all the reasons already expressed, but also because of her various idealistic political commitments in the region of her High School: because they demanded she constantly be physically present on many fronts where peaceful but crucial demonstrations also needed her, so that human societies became, precisely, less absurd and less painful…

Meanwhile her brother ended up being able to lead his own life as he saw fit, living from his majority on away from his family and his father’s opposition, partly thanks to the discreet  (or even secret?) financial help of his mother. My friend, his second big sister, never came to know exactly how all these difficult years went for him, but afterwards she had the opportunity through her work to visit her parents, now elderly, and alone. She was able to see that their father, himself freed at last from his own internal conflicts, no doubt at the price of intense and humble prayers, had succeeded in becoming once again the smiling father of the past, now full even of remarkable compassion for others, where previously sarcastic words would have escaped him, during the time of his descent into hell; and my friend had greatly rejoiced at this inner cure which she had  not dared to hope for. But no one ever mentioned her brother, so she did not do it either, not wanting to risk reawakening painful memories for her parents too.
Later still, the Divine Grace caused her one evening to be there, arriving at their home unexpectedly, just at the moment when their father, already ill for a year, was taken to the hospital.
The next day, while he was preparing to die in his hospital room, my friend noticed that
despite the presence of several other relatives who had come in haste, he was paying particular attention rather to what he seemed to already perceive of what we call the Beyond: his eyes looking up, towards the ceiling, he was smiling with such happiness that he radiated inner beauty. The simple vision of his face in this beatific state filled my friend with the same ineffable happiness, emanating from these spiritual dimensions of total Reality which she had herself discovered by learning to direct her consciousness inward, into the calm and silence of the depths of her being. Visibly, she said to herself with tears of joy in her eyes, her father, if he died, would die at peace with himself, whether or not he had succeeded in making peace with his son too; and that would be right, because he had truly done the best he could, despite the difficult challenges he had put on his program for this lifetime now close to its end…
As the next day her father seemed to be getting better, my friend took the time to visit, in another town, a place she had seen in a trance as the place where, in another of her human incarnations, she had taken a very bad decision, whose influence beyond time weighed like a heavy ball and chain on her life this time around. Arriving on the spot, she recognized the place in its smallest physical details, although she had never gone there before in this life. Throughout the visit she also felt her father’s presence with her – which suddenly made her understand the unconscious karmic bond that had brought them together in this life, and that, she felt, was now finally resolved.
When she returned to her mother, her mother told her that her father had finally died that very afternoon… “Exactly at the time when his presence came to accompany my visit there!”, m
y friend said to herself with gratitude, and the emotion of seeing her previous inner perception confirmed by the facts.

For the funeral, the whole family was there – except her brother. Although informed of course, he had decided not to come. Still too much suffering in him, and resentment…? Some were shocked, but my friend openly took the side of her brother, because having even a faint idea of ​​what their father had made him suffer before, she was not at all sure that, had she been in the place of her brother, she herself would have been able to forgive, and to come. Moreover, he had practically never known his father except in this terrible state, for his earlier, happier memories were too far away for him to remember them so that they could counterbalance the harsh reality that had followed. And he had no way either of knowing the “mitigating circumstances” that would have enabled him to understand how, through too much suffering piled up inside himself, his unfortunate father could have come to such a terrible behavior…
A few years later the brother’s and sister’s paths finally crossed again, she was pleased to see that her brother had succeeded in preserving his own integrity and had not totally hardened since the long ordeal in his young years.
However, their rare encounters were never alone with each other; so much so that they were never able to speak with each other about what each of them had experienced in the years after their separation, which had counted for him or her.

But here are some latest news of importance:
My friend, last year, a few days before her brother’s birthday (which is this time of the year), had the great surprise of suddenly feeling their father’s presence again, she said, where she lives.

Without words spoken, just by telepathy, he made her understand that he was asking her to help for his reconciliation with his son. The suffering of this painful past had lasted long enough, it was time to finally let it dissolve in forgiveness.
For that anniversary of her brother, my friend has not had the courage, she confessed to me, to speak to her brother, neither of this visit nor of the prayer expressed by the consciousness of their father. And over the following year, taken by her usual responsibilities, she more or less forgot about both visit and request.
But this year, just a few days ago, the consciousness of their father had contacted her again – earlier, so that she would have enough time to explain everything to her brother before his birthday (the day on which the soul of each individual is more open to true Love and its Light). He said that forgiveness would be beneficial not only for his own being as the ex-father but also for the inner being of his son: he had to free himself, cleanse himself, alleviate himself from all that past. Bitterness was one of the causes contributing to his aging earlier and faster than he would have without this weight of the past – and my friend had the very clear impression that there again, just as between this same father and herself, between these two beings too there had been in fact an agreement before their births, that in this lifetime they would come together in order to try and learn to forgive – including to forgive oneself one’s own mistakes and failures, often programmed actually on purpose: their future father had agreed to be for a time the apparent “villain” whose ill-treatment of his future son would be in truth meant to try and help his future son achieve inwardly what the son himself wanted for this life: to develop as much as he could the capacity of true Love, and thus of true Forgiveness – without which no one can really regain one”s original divine nature…

I think my friend has finally found an indirect way of telling all this to her brother, whose birthday is fast approaching … Will she succeed in touching him, convincing him? Perhaps he has already forgiven to a certain extent, and he needs only to perfect the inner peace which this almost complete forgiveness has already begun to bring to him? He is the only one to know, and to be able to decide what remains for him to do for this posthumous reconciliation with the consciousness of his father.
Like my friend, however, I have also come to wish with all my heart, and even to pray, that indeed the time may have come, that (even with the help of the Divine Grace if he feels he needs it and he calls for it) this so beneficial
progress may finally be fully realized in him … and that his birthday may all the more be profoundly happy!

 

This is the true story that I wanted to tell you, because we will all be able to find in it something of our own unconscious and secret inner goals, that explain so much of our external history as Voluntary Players in this Great Game of Evolution, on this Earth or some other one …

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