Signposts Along the Way: Signpost 6 – Part 5 of 5: Forgave & Forgotten!

30 Apr

After the service on Holy Thursday, life definitely began to change. Looking back now, I can see how the opening of forgiveness allowed the spectacular to take place. Although dad hadn’t spoken to me in church, or even acknowledged me, he was still AT church! This was the answer from God when my heart cried to him on that Stone Wall. Imagine that. He answered me! I would soon learn that God does so much more than one could ever expect.

Since that day, I understood that I was in the presence of God. That presence caused something new, wonderful and full of life to begin. The real blessing was that Dad was in that same atmosphere! I’ll always remember a little card given out during the service that read: “Go Out to the Whole World – Proclaim the Good News to All Creation”…Mark 16:15. This card has since been on display in my home to serve as a reminder that as a believer you are to share the truth with others.

Easter Sunday was finally upon us and I was going forward with the promise that I had made to mom. I would go to Easter dinner at my parents house and sit at the table with my father. In my heart and mind, I had already forgiven him, but seeing him face to face was still a little intimidating. I was concerned on how he would react to my attendance. So many questions raced through my head: Would he ignore me or ask me to leave? Would he incite an argument or storm off on his own? I truly had no idea. In an effort to work through my anxiety logically, I made a mental list and took some time to check it off.

My mind had already been made up to go. CHECK! I had already done my part and forgiven him. CHECK! I had a new found “strength” which pervaded me and overcame all the anxieties leading to the actual dinner at mom’s. CHECK! Then it hit me. That “strength” was more like a wall of peace and protection. One that would bring me to that dinner with dad & walk with me during stressful times in the future. I was ready to face my fear.

Easter dinner has always been one of the biggest events in our family. Cooking and baking took place for days prior. I arrived at my parents early in the afternoon accompanied by my husband and two sons. Most of the family was already there. We were greeted at the door by mom who escorted us into the dining room / kitchen area. Dad was nowhere to be seen. I quickly asked mom as to his whereabouts. She said that he was in his office and has not been out all morning. I did my best to assume our traditional routine and joined mom and my sister, Gini, in the kitchen. The boys disappeared to be with my nephew and brother-in-law.

Putting the final touches on the feast ahead took my mind off of dad’s absence. The menu would start with an antipasto of Genoa salami, wedges of aged Provolone cheese, Sicilian black olives, green olives, prosciutto, capicola, and roasted peppers. This was all served next to a light, vegetable salad. Zeppole (light-weight, deep-fried dough about 2 inches around, topped with powdered sugar) were always made available.

The main course was eggplant parmigiana, lasagna with meatballs and Italian sausage and tossed green salad. Of course red wine was served along with fresh, Italian bread straight from Arthur Avenue in the Bronx.

Then came dessert! Ricotta pie, Pizza Dolce, Italian cheesecake, cream puffs and Tadol – knotted, Italian iced cookies. Grandma Rena, Gini’s mother-in-law, never let the kids down with her always anticipated specialty: homemade chocolate cream pie. All served with coffee, espresso or milk for the kids.

With the cooking complete, Gini and I directed our attention towards the table setting. The dining room table seated ten comfortably, but we always had to squeeze in a couple more chairs. My mom’s brother, Tony and his wife, Nina would drive in from Queens each year to join us. Despite the “unsettled atmosphere” it was always a joy to have everyone gathered together to celebrate as one, big family. I was truly glad to be there.

As we retrieved the china and crystal from the hutch, I heard a familiar yet wayward voice calling from another room. “Paulette!” I froze. Looking at my sister and then my mother, I could see that the feeling was mutual. None of us moved. We heard it again. ”Paulette!” It was my father beckoning me from his office just down the hall. My heart pounded, but my legs surprisingly obeyed. I didn’t answer, I just walked towards the sound of his voice.

As I reached his doorway, I saw my father sitting in his big leather chair at the end of the room. His head tilted downward seemingly studying the floor beneath. “Yes?” was all I could manage to say. He looked up slightly then motioned me towards him.  As I approached, he stood to meet me. I stared straight into his crystal blue eyes. They were filled with tears – something I had never seen before. Doing his best to hold them back, he laid his labored hands gently on my shoulders. Through broken words, he whispered, “Paulette, could you ever please forgive me?” It was all he could get out before bursting into tears. My answer to his question was clear as I threw my arms around him and cried. No more words were necessary. Our embrace remained seemingly timeless. The language of forgiveness had been spoken. It was all finally over!

After about thirty minutes of tears and hugs, we walked out of his office together and entered the dinning room. No one said a word as we joined the family and enjoyed a beautiful Easter dinner.

Just days before Easter, the stage had been set by God and my mom. Then a miracle happened AGAIN right before my very eyes. Forgiveness was the power that opened that door. God’s love was the power that melted my dad’s heart!

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