The Italian elderly man wore the face of an ancient patriarch as he marched out orders in his broken English. He urgently needed to renew a license plate he no longer really needed. Carefully, he monitored every move as his middle-aged son drove him to his destination.

Keeping his eyes on the road, the father commanded in a firm tone, “Turn right. Not that way. Bend the wheel further or you’ll hit that car.

Stop in front of the yellow post.

No. Not there… closer to the entrance.”

Caught in this hail storm of directives, the son felt more like a teenager than a veteran driver in his fifties. When things didn’t go his way, the elderly man broke out into something part way between a tantrum and a panic attack. That day was no exception. When asked respectfully to calm down, the elder got hot and defensive and sulked silently in resentment the rest of the way home.

When father and son returned the ordeal apparently had only begun. The old man wanted to justify his behavior while his son wanted to hear no more. Both men exchanged harsh words that resulted in some out-of-control behavior. Finally, as if entering a temporary state of insanity, the elderly man broke out into a torrent of verbal abuse and curses as if one were pouring bleach into a fish tank.
The days that followed ticked away painfully slow as everyone retreated to their corner. Heaviness mingled with restless thoughts. Father muttering something to himself; son trying to block out his father’s despair. The rest of the family were ineptly caught between the two opposing forces.

When it comes to family conflict, the redemptive lessons seem to hide themselves like creatures of the night.  The guilty and the innocent intermix. While the concept of forgiveness can become lost in cloud of religious clichés, what remains clear is … no one can win while hard feelings prevail.  While it’s convenient to focus on the irrational and combative behavior of the offender, it’s just as important to pay attention to the silent brooding that can destroy and wear out the physical and emotional self.