Acceptance, Forgiveness, and Fully Living

In my choice for the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) movie, “Meet Joe Black”, Anthony Hopkins’s character Bill Parrish stares out the window while talking with “Death” played by Brad Pitt. Death dines on a cold lamb sandwich with a little bit of cilantro and Colman’s mustard. That was Joan’s favorite. Joan was Bill’s late wife, the great love of his life. “Cold lamb sandwiches. Not as plain as chicken. Not as chewy as roast beef…”

Bill poignantly confesses:

Not a day goes by that I don’t think about her. One day she was sick… The next day she was gone. So, what you gonna do?

Time is always undefeated. Time’s record is infinity – 0. Time moves on. Life moves on. We all move on.

I remember visiting my late Mom at her seniors’ home when I was in Honolulu on vacation. Mom would be sitting at the table wearing her favorite gray sweater, her back facing the sunlit living room window. She wasn’t wearing her glasses as she was supposed to. Still, when she saw me, she’d break out into the brightest smile. I got it. I got her love. I loved her, too.

I’ve not had the privilege of being a parent in this life, as my Mom has. Yet, I’ve come to believe that what parents want most of all is for their children to be happy—or, at least, to be open to the possibility of happiness.


About 25 years ago, I took a transformational education course. Jerome was my Sensei in the course. Jerome made a profound difference in my life. I have nothing but mad love and respect for this Man. Jerome passed away several years ago. He made a distinct difference in the world at large. That was his enduring legacy.

I got from Jerome that our parents are our parents, meaning that there’s power in choosing what we have, instead of yearning for what we don’t.

Some of us might have an incomplete relationship with our parents. For me, that would be my relationship with Dad, particularly when I was a boy growing up at home. There’s power in choosing what we have, choosing our parents. We have power in both our acceptance and our forgiveness for them and for ourselves.

Jerome said something that has since stayed with me:

The best way children can get back at their parents is by having an ‘unhappy life’.

Whoa. The paradox being: Well, who’s gonna suffer more? Our parents will eventually pass on. And you’re gonna be “right” by having an unhappy life? WTF? So who really wins? Really, now? Was that worth being right, being righteous?

So, what am I gonna to do? Well, I’m going to do my best to live a happy life or at least be open to the possibility of happiness. My having a happy life is my Mom’s profound and enduring legacy. Perhaps, part of Mom’s legacy is for me to fall madly and deeply in love, or at least to be open to it. Looking back, that might have been something Mom sacrificed for herself.

A couple of years ago, I told Mom that I met Natasha on Match dot com. I liked her, so much. Mom was so happy for me. She knew that I had no romantic interest in my life. No, a relationship with Natasha didn’t work out for me. Yet, for that time, I was happy, which made Mom happy, too. I got it.

So what, I’m I gonna do? Well, I’ll continue to give falling in love my best shot. Yeah, I’m doing it for me. Still, it fills my soul that Mom might be happy for me, as well.

Perhaps, I’ll discover the great love of my life. Perhaps, I don’t, in my lifetime. I do know this much: Mom was my profound love story. So I’ll continue to give this my best shot, “and let the chips fall where they may.” Amen. Amen.


Have you read the original anthology that was the catalyst for The Good Men Project? Buy here: The Good Men Project: Real Stories from the Front Lines of Modern Manhood


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