When it comes to forgiveness, I’m more of an Old Testament eye-for-an-eye type than the New Testament give-the-other-cheek type. And yes, I know that an eye-for-an-eye soon makes the whole world blind . . .
While trying to pinpoint why I hurt so easily and why I find it so hard to forgive easily, I went back, way back. I won’t say that I have a chip on my shoulder about it but my childhood could have been made easier if the people who went ahead of me made more responsible choices.
My paternal grandfather left his wife and family when his firstborn (my Dad) was three. Dad’s two sisters were two and one. He went on to find himself another wife and had another four children with her and they had a lovely life. All went to grand schools, got to go to varsity and have held down cushy jobs but all live at home now and live off the old people.
My dad, his sisters and their mother, in contrast, had a hard life. They were left to fend for themselves in a little backyard shack in Goodwood and when the Group Areas Act came along, they were sent to Bonteheuwel on the Cape Flats and just tried to exist. Dad luckily did not get involved in gangs and such stuff as he was too busy being the man of the house and having to care for and protect the girls. I won’t tell you what kind of jobs dad and his mom had to do to keep their heads above water. The two sisters went on to have have torrid lives with various husbands/boyfriends and to this day still live in poverty.
Dad worked as a carpenter for most of my childhood. When Mom died he decided to get his matric as he had his JC. He got his matric and finished a Diploma in Education and became a teacher (Woodwork and Maths). He’s worked himself up to a nice job in the private sector and I’m so proud of him.
Dad broke his back to send us to good schools. School was about the only thing we had that was grand. For the rest we had a pretty rough time of it too. Not quite Angela’s Ashes, but rough. Two of us four children managed to get bursaries for tertiary education.
I have so much anger towards my grandfather for robbing my dad and his sisters of a carefree childhood and starting a vicious cycle of poverty and poor education for our family. My dad is the only one from his siblings and cousins that actually got anywhere. The rest are stuck in a horrid cycle of violence, abuse, neglect and poverty. They’re not entirely blameless, of course, but having the kack childhood they had definitely did not help.
This while my grandfather’s second family is living it up with cushy jobs and never having to worry about where their next meal will come from.
Forgive? Sounds good. Forget? I don’t think I could.