Time to forgive and learn to give

Published 8:35 am Tuesday, October 28, 2014

By CHRIS GEORGE / Guest Columnist
I recall taking a spelling test in first grade in the mid-‘70s when my mom came to check me out of school.  She was what we now call a “non-custodial parent”, but there was no approved list that school administrators were to check prior to letting a child go.
She simply walked in and we walked out; a method of coping she was known for. We then began a journey south, hitch-hiking with whoever would pick us up. Just me, Mom, and my Superman backpack.  How we made it to Florida, I’ll never know, other than there was a certain hedge of protection around me. When she ran out of money, she called home, as usual. Nanny came straight to Florida and picked me up. She left mom there and we didn’t see her again for a few years.
When she did resurface, I learned she had been beaten nearly to death and held against her will in North Alabama. That is likely my earliest memory of my mother’s unpleasant lifestyle. As I grew, my mom would come and go. We tried to establish a somewhat normal relationship. Sometimes I would go stay with her in the weekly rate motel that she frequented often, only to find myself sitting in the back seat of the car while mom went bar-hopping.
As you can expect, this lifestyle of drugs and alcohol did damage to her that couldn’t be repaired, and ultimately led to her death at the age of 56.
I spent most of my adult life holding a certain level of resentment toward her for denying me what I thought was normal. Not only for me not having a normal childhood, but denying my own children the chance to meet her. I do know that she faced demons that many people face that I see every day in my line of work.
I am reminded of it every day when I see substance abuse, disagreements over finances and physical abuse in the homes throughout our county. We subject our loved ones to pain for selfish reasons and often are told that, “What I do to my body is my business,” when in fact, it’s everyone’s business.
As you read this and you are thinking that the person doing you wrong needs improvement, then I suggest you pick up the first stone and throw it. As the holiday season approaches, be the better person and learn to forgive those that may have done you wrong in the past.  This is a season of thanks and giving and we can’t expect love for others if we aren’t willing to give it first.
The clinched fist represents anger, but if you unclench that fist and give, then you will certainly receive.  I have since offered my mom a posthumous forgiveness for a way of life that deprived so many of her potential, and I am certainly thankful for the lessons she taught me. She exposed me to the true world of addiction, pain and sorrow, and gave me a motivation to keep others from seeing it.
Chris George is the commander of the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigation Division.