Are you Lori Ferguson, born June 12, 1990, who lives in Concord, California, and whose parents are Cathy and Steve Ferguson? (Or do you know Lori? If so, pass this message on to her). I’ve got a message for you about your grandparents, whom you haven’t seen since December 1999..
Lori, I’m your great-uncle Brian. Yesterday I took this photo of your grandfather and grandmother—Bob and Carol Ann Gray—in front of the lilacs at our home in Salem, Oregon. They’ve been visiting my wife, Laurel, and me. We’ve talked, as we always do, about how much they would like to see you, to talk with you, to get a letter from you. Any connection with you would be better than nothing.
As I’m sure you know, since 2000 your mother and father have refused to let Bob and Carol Ann have any sort of contact with you and your brother, Bo. To put it bluntly, this is cruel and unusual punishment for grandparents. They love you a lot. This enforced separation has caused them a lot of pain.
You’re old enough to make your own decision about whether you want to see your grandparents again. I hope you’ll choose to contact them. Their phone number in Walnut Creek is 925-939-1474. Their email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s time, long past time, to bring you together with them.
I’ve still got a stack of correspondence from your mother and grandmother about the family rift that led to this hugely unfortunate situation. I tried to serve as a go-between. Obviously I didn’t succeed.
Lori, I have no idea what your parents have told you about why they don’t want you to see your grandparents again. And I’m not going to make any judgments about who is right and who is wrong here. My personal impression is that your mother made a big deal out of a small misunderstanding.
I’ll end with some excerpts from a letter I wrote to your mother on March 20, 2000 (see continuation to this post). Please read them with an open mind. I spoke my own mind quite strongly. I didn’t intend then, nor do I intend now, to disparage your mother’s and father’s religious beliefs, which you might share. I just wanted to have them do some thinking about what it means to be truly spiritual.
The most important thing I want to say is that I love you. I haven’t seen you as much as an uncle should have, and I apologize for that. I live in my own world, as you do in yours, and our worlds haven’t overlapped much since you were little. Still, I hope that you’ll always keep in mind that whatever I say to you comes from a foundation of concern and love. If I didn’t care about you, I’d just say, “to hell with you,” or not even that—I’d just ignore you.
And I guess this is what bothers me so much about the way you’re treating your mother. The cruelest act is to totally ignore someone who loves you, because that cuts at the quick of their love. So when I read the last line of your recent message, “don’t contact me any more,” and when I called your mother and knew that she had been crying, I cried inside myself. Because I knew how awful I would feel if Celeste [my daughter]ever said that to me, or if Laurel ever said that to me.
How would you feel if Lori did to you, what you are doing to your mother? That’s the Golden Rule. If we can’t honestly accept that Rule, then I feel we need to look at our behavior. As I said in my [previous] letter, I’m really concerned that what you’re putting out—this absolute conviction that you’re 100% right and Carol Ann is 100% wrong—is going to be thrown back into your face one day, when your hear your own child (or children) echoing your words. Jesus said, “He who is without sin, throw the first stone.” Cathy, you’ve been throwing a lot of stones lately, and I’m pretty sure you’re not without sin, or imperfections.
…Carol Ann wants to know how she’ll be able to see Lori and Bo. You need to work this out with her. Your problem with your mother shouldn’t cut them off from their grandparents. That would be really selfish of you.
Well, I hope all this works out soon [which, of course, it hasn’t]. I can’t believe that you really want to throw away all the love your parents have given you, and still want to give you, Cathy. I’ve struggled to live a spiritual life for most of my life, and I still don’t have all the answers—or even many of them. But I do know that being spiritual has a lot to do with opening ourselves up, rather than closing ourselves down.
I mean, we have to open ourselves up to our connection with God and other people by becoming more humble, more selfless, more forgiving—not less. It simply seems that you’re heading pell-mell in the other direction. It almost seems as if you’ve decided to divide life, and people, into two camps, saying “to hell with them” to the people you’ve cast as the “dark side.”
But life isn’t that way. It’s all God’s creation. And when you shut yourself off from any part of it, you shut yourself off from the whole, especially when that part is your parents who bore and raised you. What you’ve done is cut yourself off from your earthly source, and I don’t see how that is going to make you a better person, or more spiritual.
Love, Uncle Brian