My parents were exceptional and complex people. Their marital problems did not belong to me, but as a child living with them, it felt as though they did. Divorce strove to unhinge every consideration my family held dear, a deadly anthrax looking to kill joy, peace of mind and stability. Divorce proved itself a worthy enemy. It took a long time before my parents and I were able to sweep divorce from our doorstep – in word, in process, and in aftermath.
I am sorry my children had to experience their parents’ divorce. it is confusing, separating your parents from what they do. My father and mother were in love. They were political, they held convictions of honor and equality, I was proud of my parents and their ideals.
As a young child I went on peace marches, heard about Paul Robeson concerts, and went to the best camp this side of the Mississippi. My life was cocooned in a powerful sense of unity. We were united in music, politics, philosophy. My parents placed great value on education, critical thinking and debate. They were not afraid of, or against, disagreement or dissension. They welcomed it as a learning tool and honing experience. In one fell swoop, they managed to teach me to respect my own, and another’s, values and opinions.
My parents – their genes and their nurture – have had a profound effect on who I am and what I believe. I am however clear that my life is my responsibility and no belief I hold is above scrutiny or reconsideration. The information learned from my parents is still in the process of being digested and absorbed. To their credit, I will probably be doing this as long as I live. They have been wonderful, albeit different, forces in my life. By acknowledging my mother and father, I keep them close. It is healing. connecting, and life affirming.