A Forgiving At Assisi Preview

From The Preface

A Forgiving at Assisi transcends the usual airing of family skeletons by showing the reader the framework I used in surmounting years of mental abuse and deprivation by a father who did not know how to love anyone, most especially himself and his three wives.  I finally emerged triumphant and loving in spite of the scars. The steps to recovery that I chronicle for the reader offer a framework that can be used by anyone in coping with small grievances as well as major distresses.

It also is a testimony to the healing power of forgiveness. No longer am I consumed by hurt, anger, bitterness, and dismay over the provisions in my father's will. Now, some twenty years after my father's death, I feel deep pity for this man who lived such a devastatingly empty and lonely life. I have  written in the hope that others who have felt any negative influences can find some relief by understanding the roots of the negativity, as I eventually did with my father's life.

I believe I have given a sympathetic treatment to a person who tried so hard to educate himself, to develop his capabilities, and to amass a secret fortune. Given the emotional poverty of my father's formative years, it was inevitable that there would be some major gaps and distortions in his personality. I am now able to view these elements candidly and feel compassion for a man who was totally dysfunctional in the role of husband and father, who lived as a miser and pauper, then died at the age of one hundred and two with an estate of almost two million dollars.

From Chapter One

"I’ve been left out of a two million dollar estate," I said to my attorney.

"That's unusual," he replied. "Most parents want to make a better life for their children and their grandchildren."

At that moment I was still amazed over the existence of any estate at all. The personal pain would come later.  

I asked, "How could my father secretly accumulate so much by the time he died at one hundred and two when he never earned more than four thousand dollars a year?"

The attorney had no answer.

"True, he was a miser and lived at the poverty level. Was that how he did it?"

Gradually it sank in. With the realization came the guilt and the devastation. I had been rejected again. The final time. My father had virtually disinherited his wife and family. The bulk of the estate would go to strangers and to a well- endowed university to set up scholarships when he had shown no interest in the education of his own children.

I began to ask almost anybody, "How do such things happen?"

I researched cases of disinheritance looking for parallels that might help me understand my situation.

There was film star Bette Davis. In her will, she did not mention her daughter, her only natural child, and two grandchildren. The estate, an estimated one million dollars, was split between an adopted son and a secretary. What had the daughter done? She had lashed out in a tell-all book, saying Bette Davis was a horrible mother who made the daughter's childhood a nightmare. Yet Bette herself had been the victim of bad parenting, affected by her father's abandonment and her mother's pampering when Bette was a child.

In my father's case, I saw a person who at the age of fifty-nine, when my mother divorced him after twenty-two years, had a bank balance of only forty dollars. That amount grew into almost two million dollars in forty-three years.

Most of us may never be disinherited financially. However, we can be rejected in other ways. We may get fired or divorced. We might feel neglected or hurt, used or misused. We can hold on to grudges and grievances. We limit our growth. We blame others when things go wrong.

Whether we are separated from an actual inheritance or just feel separated from other people, what can we do to ease the pain and get on with our lives? We have to let go of the anger and the resentment and forgive the past because it is the only way to have inner peace. We are released when we forgive others.

Joel Osteen is the senior pastor of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas. This church is listed as America's largest congregation with about 30,000 adult attendees each week. He wrote in the best seller Your Best Life Now: "If you want to live your best life now, you must be quick to forgive. Learn to let go of the hurts and pains of the past." Could I do that?

With all of the old hurts and grudges, and now with this new final rejection, could I find my way out? I had to try.