Last Will and Testament by Carol P. Christ


Just over a month ago and shortly before Greece went into Coronavirus lockdown, I signed the contract on my new apartment in Crete (after waiting 6 months for the owner to submit his paperwork). Though I did not realize it until I had been sitting in the notary’s office for several hours, the date of the signing was February 25, my father’s birthday. My father and I had a troubled relationship, due to the fact that he could not accept that I did not “know my place” in a world where women were expected to be submissive to men.

My father and I did not see each other during the last thirteen years of his life. After having received “the silent treatment” for two of the four months when I was teaching in California and living less than a mile away from him and his third wife, I had gradually come to the conclusion that I did not want to put either of us in the position where he could be cruel to me again. When he developed a heart problem a few years before he died, I decided not to visit. Nor did he ask me to do so.

During his last decade, we maintained a relationship based on our mutual interest in our ancestors. When Roots was first televised, I asked him about our family, and he responded simply, “It’s too sad to talk about.” But at eighty-plus, my father learned to use the internet in order to email me his memories and to comment on what I was discovering. I was thrilled that he was still alive and well when my second cousin Bill Christ and I discovered our Christ family roots in the small village of Unterpreppach, in Lower Franconia, Northern Bavaria, Germany, going all the way back to the 1500s.

When my father died on July 6, 2017, he was 98 years, 4 months, and 12 days old. I was pleased that he had lived such a long life and that he was mentally fit until the end. Though I often wondered why he had “all the luck,” I was happy that he found love with three wives and the female companion of his last years. I felt sad that we had not had a better relationship, but grateful that we had been able to stay in touch through our ancestors.

As I had already inherited when my mother died in 1991, and had invested in money market funds (and property) as my father advised, I did not expect that there would be any further inheritance. I would not have been surprised if he had given whatever money was left to his favorite child, my youngest brother. I was shocked when I learned that my father still had a substantial estate and that he had divided it into four equal parts, one for each of his children, with the fourth to be divided among the grandchildren.

My father was careful with his money and fair in sharing it with his children. He benefited from the G.I. Bill after the war, but he also worked very hard to support his family and invested well. I began babysitting when I was 10 years old for 10 cents an hour, and it was my father who taught me not to spend what I earned on candy, but to save it for something I really wanted—in the beginning dolls, and later, fabric and patterns to make my own clothes. These early lessons served me well.

I do not forgive my father for his cruelty to me over the years. He never understood or acknowledged that he had done anything wrong. I sensed that if we ever spent time together again, he would find reason to reject me again. I had tried to forgive and forget many times, only to be disappointed. Still, I did not hate my father. I wished him well, and I knew that his generosity had made my life easier.

I suspect that the coincidence that I signed the contract for my new home in Heraklion on my father’s birthday was meant to remind me that my ability to purchase the apartment was due to his wish that I be provided for and benefit from his hard work. That was his last “will” and “testament.”

Janet and Jack Christ with Carol

I am still in Lesbos, but renovation work is proceeding on the apartment, and I hope to move once the Coronavirus quarantine is ended. Thank you Jack Christ.

(In the meanwhile my heart goes out to all of those who are suffering from Coronavirus and the many other ills of our world.)

 

Carol P. Christ is an internationally known feminist and ecofeminist writer, activist, and educator who will soon be moving to Heraklion, Crete. Carol’s recent book written with Judith Plaskow, Goddess and God in the World: Conversations in Embodied Theology, is on Amazon. A Serpentine Path: Mysteries of the Goddess is on sale for $9.99 on Amazon. Carol has been leading Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete for over twenty years: join her in Crete. Carol’s photo by Michael Honneger.

Listen to Carol’s a-mazing interview with Mary Hynes on CBC’s Tapestry recorded in conjunction with her keynote address to the Parliament of World’s Religions.



Categories: abuse, Abuse of Power, Death, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General

Tags: , , ,

15 replies

  1. It was fortunate that you could keep in touch over the topic of ancestry, and a testament of his intention to care for you that he left you a fair share.
    I love the photo!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you Carol. I was blessed to have had a loving relationship with both my parents until they died and not a day passes that I don’t think of them in some way. But your post also made me reflect on so many things left unsaid. And the regret I carry because of that. Not all of those things left unsaid are freighted with pain, but they still feel like unfinished business, the untidiness of life’s complications. And every day I think about the questions I did not ask when I might have obtained answers: questions about their past, their endurance through a World War and Japanese Occupation; their endurance through unspeakable tragedy and loss, and their capacity for forgiveness. Had I asked more questions, I might have learned so much more. Thanks again for this wise post.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Carol, this is a moving and thought-provoking post. Thank you. It seems odd that your father was cruel to you, yet left you part of his estate. I’m glad you were able to share your interest in family history with him, at least, and that your inheritance from him made your life easier.

    My own father was born poor and died poor. He left me an abiding love of English literature and a passion for the English language. Although he didn’t know it, he left me another gift, that of knowing what was important. My parents’ marriage broke up after 22 years. Marrying my mother was the best thing that ever happened to him. He didn’t know what he had when he had it, and by the time he lost it he could never get it back.

    My husband and I have been married for 52 years. I do know what I have, and I’m taking very good care of him.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Carol, what a moving post. I really want to respond – I will talk about my own journey because as you may be aware I am also a child of abuse. Both my parents have died. My mother almost 2 years ago, my father about 30 years ago. Neither left me much of anything as neither of them thought much past their own desires and needs. But here is what I’ve learned in the past two years. My not forgiving them or holding onto the woundings doesn’t hurt them in the slightest, teeniest amount. It does hurt me very deeply. I became aware that my body was the only battlefield on this earth where the abuse was still being re-played and battled out. I have always done a self-mutilation. Guilt? Shame? Anger? All of them? In the past year I have come to grips with it and have cut it down about 90% now. I am doing through the process of forgiveness. I did not need to forget, but I do need to let it go so I can live happily. And so I wish the same for you.

    Funny, I also had a magical event happen in the week between my mother’s and father’s birthday last year. It changed my life. I like to think that my parents has intervened in some way to make it happen.

    This move you are planning sounds so joyous and beautiful. It is long planned and well earned. And it sounds like your father has a hand in smoothing that path for you. I hope you can bless and thank his role in this while letting go of the pain. He was so obviously a wounded soul himself. There is a spiritual belief that when we heal ourselves we also heal our ancestors. I like to believe that is true.

    Good speed and happy renovating and moving!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Such a heartrending family story – I am glad at least that you were a recipient of a monetary inheritance… this at least allows you to live where you feel called to live… and I like it that you can give credit to your father for the things he taught/ gave you.

    It has been the same with me. As I get older, I am less judgemental and more appreciative of what was given… In my own case my mother made sure that I wouldn’t have enough money – her final betrayal – but these days what I try to remember is that she opened the door to Nature… I finally accepted that my mother probably never loved me – but it’s too late – what’s left is acceptance of “what is” is all that’s left…

    May you stay safe during this time. And Blessings for all you do and share…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Such a moving post, Carol. Being able to acknowledge fully both the wounds and the gifts inflicted and bequeathed by our parents makes forgiveness, whatever it is or isn’t, moot. May we all be seen, held accountable and released with such wisdom and generosity.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beautiful, thank you for sharing.
    It’s somehow refreshing and hopeful to me that although my relationship with my father is absent, someday I might feel peace about it. Often, when I’ve found myself uncomfortable in patriarchal churches with the congregation praising the nurturing Father. I believe it was part of my life plan to not have that sweet “Daddy” experience so that I would question and help others question that ancient set-up.
    Blessings on your next apartment, I’m sure it is fabulous.

    Like

  8. Have you reached out to him now that he is an ancestor? My relationship with my father was rocky, but less rocky than yours – and I found that when my father passed away, all the work he and I had done paid off in a sudden, very close bond between us, with him finally free from the fears and wounds that prevented him from being as safe as I had always wanted him to be. I’m glad you have found your peace with it in your own way.

    Like

Please familiarize yourself with our Comment Policy before posting.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: