A sick and aged man was looked after for many years by his son and daughter-in-law. However, as the years passed their patience waned. One night the son put his father on his shoulders and carried him towards the well behind their house.
“Please don’t throw me in that well, anywhere else but not there,” said the old man.
“Why not?” asked his son.
“Because that is where I dumped my father.”
I have often noticed how the wounds suffered by one generation are passed on to the next generation. Is it possible to break this chain of suffering?
A middle-aged Fijian man told me that when he brings produce from his farm to his wife’s stall in the market he hands over the vegetables to her. She then takes care of sales and manages the finances. When her husband needs some personal money he asks her for it. This partnership has increased their trust and love for each other. “It wasn’t always like that,” he admits. “I still often ask her to forgive me for the way I treated her earlier in our marriage.”
A single mother was having conflicts with her 17-year-old son. She took my advice to sit and share with him. He asked her to remember her own feelings when she was his age. “That is where my problems began,” she said. “I resisted my mother’s control and got into trouble. I have had a hard life as a result. I don’t want you to make the mistakes I made and suffer as I have.” Her son remained silent. He came later and apologized for being disrespectful to her.
After sharing these stories at Mass on the Feast of the Holy Family I met an old friend who was now married with two children. Her husband had mistreated her earlier. “I hope you listened to my homily and will put it into practice,” I said to both. “Oh yes,” they replied. “Actually we have done Marriage Encounter recently,” she reported. “Did it help?” “Yes, it really did,” she replied with a smile.
The chain of wounds being passed from one generation to the next can be broken. Communication from the heart can do it!
Columban Fr. Frank Hoare lives and works in Fiji.