Thursday, January 7, 2016

Estranged



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I don’t know where this is going to end up, BUT I have this thought in my head and it won’t go away until I exert some effort toward expressing my feelings concerning it.

ESTRANGED: To make hostile, unsympathetic, or indifferent; alienate. To remove from an accustomed place or set of associations
My own words: To treat as a stranger...to disown.

This time of year, when family is the focal point, especially the siblings or parental units not residing in the immediate family’s residence, the thought of being “estranged” from one’s own children is very disturbing to myself.

And yet, here I sit, thinking and trying to write something meaningful about finding myself in that exact situation. I am the father of four children and all but one of them has been “estranged” from me due to one set of circumstances or another. I can’t quite make up my mind whether I did the “estranging” or they did. Perhaps it was a little of both.

Has it really been that many years since that great, rift, valley first appeared between us?  It seems like only yesterday. I stand on one side of the rim and they stand on the other. With the passage of time the two sides seem to be moving farther away from one another.

Lately I’ve come across a variety of TV programs that address the issue. It appears that estrangement is not all that uncommon at this place in time. The fact that there are many more people now who find themselves in the same boat hasn’t done anything to help me feel better about it. Even if it became so common that everyone accepted it as “Normal” I don’t think it would help.

I mean...at this time in life; at this time of the year, I should be surrounded with children and grandchildren but instead there is only a deafening stillness most of the time. If it wasn’t for my thirty-three year old daughter still calling me “Daddy” I think I would have lost all connection with that part of my identity.

There was time when the word “Grandpa” rang sweetly in my ear. Now I must resort to calling myself Daddy with reference to our Cat and Dog just so I can retain a small sense of being connected to someone who is close to me emotionally. The Cat is very much like my children were just before we became estranged. But the Dog; what an outlet she has become for me. She is able to return all the affection I shower upon her. She has become the recipient of all our favors. She gets gifts at the end of every shopping excursion. She gets most of the attention from all of us. Need I tell you that she is eating it up?

And then, just when I was feeling the most disconnected as a parent, my thoughts turned to God. How must His situation feel to Him? I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in a situation similar to my own except that it is magnified millions of times over.

In the light of that realization, I am surprised that I haven’t known some kind of relief from my own emotional burden. I find that I am still unable to get “Into the spirit of the season.” I became more Scrooge like with each passing year.

Yesterday afternoon I picked up the remote for the TV and switched to Oprah’s show. Wouldn’t you know it; she was featuring some very special parents and all that they do to reinforce that parent/child relationship. Fifteen minutes into it my face was streaked with tears and my heart felt like it had developed a few more cracks. I am one miserable soul.  Would somebody give me a hug? I’m having a very hard time of trying to be MERRY and I’m so NEEDY.

BUT...I hope none of you will allow my situation to keep you from being merry yourself.

Now I find that I must battle this urge to hate the person who wrote that popular Christmas song...”It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”



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