To the adult children who stubbornly and foolishly refuse to let go of the past and who spurn a parent’s outstretched hand: No doubt you suffered as a child when your family was splintered. More often than not, children of divorce are exposed to the negative vibes of a dysfunctional relationship. The uneasy climate is made worse by parents who use their children as pawns and who denounce the other in front of their hapless young who are forced to choose between the “good guy” and the supposed “bad guy.”
You now have a family of your own and are mature enough to discern that your perception as a child may have been skewed in favor of the parent who made more noise or who shed more tears in your presence. Naturally you developed resentment for the parent you perceived as having been the cause of all of the upheaval in your environment.
Right now you feel as though you simply cannot be bothered with forging a new parental relationship or forgiving the wrongs – real or imagined. You believe you have the perfect excuse (he hurt me and my mom) and conveniently ignore the fact that you are disobeying Hashem’s commandment.
Yet there is no way around it. We must honor and respect our parents who gave us life. Like you, your father has also grown. Don’t we all make mistakes and often wish we could turn back the hands of time? If you will not heed the heartfelt pleas of your father, how will you expect your Father in Heaven to hearken to your pleas?
When your father goes to his eternal rest after 120, like it or not you will need to sit shiva for him. Will you then lament the lost opportunities? Will you cry at his gravesite asking forgiveness for your disrespect and chutzpah? No amount of tears will alter the reality, that you will have permanently denied your own children a relationship with their zeida. You will have to live with yourself and with the pain and damage you wrought for your father, for yourself and for his grandchildren who you further deprived of the great mitzvah of honoring a grandparent.
So you see, you would be doing yourself a favor by inviting your father over and introducing him to your family, to his family. It’s one thing when a parent refuses to make amends and won’t hear of reconciliation; it’s quite another when a father begs to be given the chance to forge a relationship and closeness with his children and grandchildren.
I am hopeful that you are not so heartless as to relegate your father to a life of endless suffering. You might also want to bear in mind that for every day that passes, you transgress the command to honor your father, and deprive yourself of mitzvos (each act of Kibbud Av counts as a separate mitzvah) that reward you both in this life and the next. (The great mitzvah of making peace is also one that is rewarded in both worlds.)
Where there is life, there is hope. Hopefully, you will do the right thing. Your father is waiting… Hashem is watching…