9.04.2005

On my Dad's side of the family, his mother being Norwegian, he attended Lutheran churches as a child, what little he did attend. His mother was the one who saw to it, when she could. His father was a very profane, abusive, and unreligious man, right to the end. He could be somewhat pleasant, but even I, who knew him not that well, was never very comfortable around him. Everyone else who did know him better, including his own son my father, painted a very negative picture of him. At one point, when my Dad was still at home but was a young man, he had to lethally threaten his own father to prevent him from beating his mother to death. My Dad is a sweet guy - he could have been a wife beater himself, but turned out just the opposite - a kind, thoughtful, inquisitive, funny, inspiring man.

However, I learned later in life that my Dad may have had a dark side.

My daughter and his granddaughter, Eva came to me in 1989 when she was around 10 years old after kids club at church one night. She slowly told me with great difficulty that my Dad had been molesting her.*

I supported Eva and gave her the benefit of the doubt from the very beginning. I felt to do otherwise would not only break trust with her, but put her at a very possible further risk. In my heart, I couldn't be sure, but that said, I couldn't be sure either way; with my Dad's family history, it's quite possible something like this behavior could come out for any number of reasons.

I reported it to the authorities, and my father was notified by his local county sheriff that my county was aware of the allegations. However, since I was not pursuing a private action, it was not up to me to file charges, but up to the local county attorney where my father lived. They chose not to.

I did use my church and they used their church, setting up a meeting in Grand Forks midway between us with both our pastors present. We talked many things out, and aired concerns, but I never did get a definitive denial OR admission of guilt from my father.

Dad cried a lot, wanting to know if I would ever forgive him. He was very broken up about it, and concerned about my love for him. He asked specifically if I had lost my love for him.

I wrapped my arms around him, and said that even if I never knew the answer, I can live with it. That was my way of allowing him not to have to admit it, right or wrong, I just let him off the hook. "God knows, and you and Eva know. I forgive and yes, I love you."

I put parameters on Eva's being alone with them. For a year or so, she was never allowed near him. Then we visited together. The next two years she spent a week or two alone with my folks during the summer, and she felt OK about that.

It was very hard for Eva to tell me because we had lived full-time with my folks for 18 months in 1985 to 1986, and had lived near them when she was a toddle, so she feels very close to them.

Eva has told me long ago that she forgave her grandfather, and she feels similar about her own Dad (another long story, for another time...); I was concerned for her that she may have been negatively affected in a way that would affect the rest of her life. However, so far she has risen above it with her love of learning, excelling academically, and finding a wonderful life partner in her husband Meran.

She deserves it, God bless her...

* While it never went to full penetration of any sort, it did involve heavy fondling of the lower body and digital penetration, which was plenty traumatic enough...