Monday, June 20, 2011


It’s easy to turn those who have died into saints. You overlook obvious flaws and overemphasize the goodness. An ordinary, average person can become extraordinary the day they die.

Now that my dad is gone we only seem to remember his amazing attributes. This is a source of contention for my mom because we have not shown her the same forgiveness. We have turned my dad into a saint: St. William Arnold. He would get a good laugh out of the whole situation. His final revenge.

My dad was able to pull this same maneuver when we were teenagers. He left town for an extended period of time after my parent’s divorce. Even though I felt angry and abandoned at the time, I soon forgave him. Then and now, only remembering the good, bright and sunny moments can ease the pain. It somehow makes the separation bearable. I gain much comfort recalling the positive qualities my dad displayed. But he was not a saint. He had flaws, he made mistakes, he was human.

Around the time my dad died, I learned some valuable information about my great-grandfather, who had passed away when I was a child. All my life I had been told about his amazing, saintly attributes. But no one ever talked about his flaws. I was shocked to learn of his failings. To know he was human.

The irony is that when you die, you are forgiven of the mistakes that follow you when you’re alive. This is a natural human tendency: to memorialize those who are gone, to set them on a pedestal. The sad part is that we can’t seem to do this when the person is living. For most of us death may be the only time we achieve sainthood.

No comments: