A letter to WGBH Morning Stories from Cyndy, in Reston, Virginia:
The Resiliency of Family
I know you didn't ask, but I wanted to share my thoughts on the resiliency of family (Note: Cyndy's letter was featured in a recent WGBH Morning Stories podcast called 'From You to Us, part 2'. It has come to me slowly but profoundly in the past few years. I am 44, and have recently come to terms with the fact that my father disowned me when I was 24. I was in love with a black gentleman, and my Dad couldn't take it. It broke both our hearts, I think. I was his baby girl, and the one (of five children) most like him. We stayed estranged for the next 9 months - and then he was killed in a freak car accident on the Autobahn while traveling in Zurich.
Everyone always puts on their sad face when they hear this story. They say, "... oh if you'd only known that you had so little time left...."
But I don't agree with their thinking. I wouldn't have done anything differently. It was a question of personal integrity - there was no way I could have made the choice to stop dating this man because my father was a bigot. I'm sad it happened at all, and sad that we didn't have more time to sort through it all. I've been angry, I guess, and that anger kept me closed to any memory of him.
But in the past few years I've let myself think about it from some distance (literally and figuratively) - and I see that it was his gift that enabled me to stand up to him like that. His gifts (plural) I should say. He didn't raise me to be racist. He taught me to stand up for what was right, even at great cost. He instilled in me the personal dignity and sense of decency that enabled me to even attempt such unheard of behavior in my family. It was a defining moment in my life, one that clarified many things for me.
I am so thankful that I can finally separate these things from the cruelty and small-mindedness of his other action. And I know, really know, he was proud of me - even if he wasn't able to see/know it at the time.
Thank you for your wonderful podcast. I listen to you on my iPod Shuffle, usually as I drive to the gym each night. I so appreciate the gentle way you approach life's really tough issues. Your stories encourage the listener to step in another's shoes, to find new ways to look at situations. So much more true than programs that feel the need to provide black-and-white directions to the "right" answer.
Thanks for motivating me to put these thoughts in writing.
Cyndy, Reston, VA
FW: The Resiliency of Family
I heard Gary's reading of my letter on your recent podcast. Thank you for providing such a safe place for me to share my story.
When I heard you mention your Flickr pages, I thought I'd send you a snapshot of my dad and me at the beach in Rome, Italy in 1964.