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.”
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.