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A Reunion After 8 Pain Filled Years

Reunification: My Personal Narrative
from a son, 8th grade

When I was about to walk through the door to the apartment, I did not know what to expect.  I had not seen my mom's parents in almost seven years, three years of that time my brother and I spent hospitalized to keep us away from them.  This time included being away from them for family activities such as Christmas, Thanksgivings and Birthdays.  I didn't know how my grandparents were going to react to us or what their personalities were like.  I didn't even remember what they looked like.  All those years we had no contact with them at all, no pictures, no letters, no telephone calls, nothing at all.

The incident that severed our ties with our grandparents began when my mom entered therapy and hypnosis with a doctor who believed that he could retrieve memories of things that only he knew about, claiming my mom had forgotten them.  My mom then started making accusations that my grandparents had participated in sexual abuse and other horrible crimes.  They ended up fighting and stopped speaking to each other.  With the assistance of my mom's sister, we started to make the first contact with them.

On December 26, 1992, I was lying on my bed at our hotel, awaiting the visit which would occur in a matter of minutes.  I was scared and anxious about meeting them and my brother was extremely curious about meeting them.  He is more open minded than me.  I tend to be more cynical.  As we pulled up in the driveway of the apartment complex, we were all saying a prayer as a family.  We apprehensively greeted our grandparents at their apartment door and walked into the apartment.

In the living room was a beautifully decorated Christmas tree and a tray full of freshly baked holiday goodies.  My grandfather is a good chef and my grandmother gives tins of their bakery items away as holiday gifts.  My Grandma told us to fill the place of treats and Grandpa poured us some chocolate milk.  It was real hard to sit down and talk and I kept running out of things to say, but it helped to do something normal at the same time, like eating.

My grandparents told me how they had driven 6 hours to Chicago many times to see us, but were turned away by the doctors at the hospital and that they had tried to send cards and gifts to us.  They told us how they felt rejected and confused.  I really understood.  Grandma and Grandpa told us that they never stopped praying for us or stopped loving us.  I finally heard their part of the story.  I told them that I was really confused during that time, too, and that I had hated them and wanted them in prison so I could laugh at them for what I was told they had done to my mom and our family.  I made sure they knew I did not believe that anymore and I knew that the doctors had done terrible things to all of us.  I also told them that we were kept away from our dad's parents for about two and a half years, but were not back together.  Our first visit lasted three hours.  Afterward I was thoroughly exhausted.

We started writing letters and soon more visits started happening.  They came for my eighth grade graduation in May.  (I had been a preschooler when we broke apart.) They stayed for a four days visit.  My Grandpa taught us how to fish and my brother and I both caught our first fish with him.  We shared Christmas 1993 together, our first real Christmas with them since 1985.

At Christmas time this year, we celebrated Christmas and then we flew out to Baltimore.  Our parents attended a False Memory Syndrome Conference that was sponsored by Johns Hopkins Hospital and while our parents were at the conference, our grandparents took my brother and me to the national Aquarium and Fort McHenry.  We also had a chance to just spend time together watching TV, swimming and talking.

After the conference, we went to Washington, DC for a week.  We visited the White House, the Capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, the FBI Headquarters, Arlington Cemetery, and the Shrine of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception.  We also visited a few Civil War sites like Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, and Harpers Ferry.  Our grandma really knows her history, especially the Civil War.

During the Civil War, families were split and often ended up having brother fight against brother and father against son.  In the Civil War, you could see the injured, count the dead and know families would never be together again.  Our family endured a different kind of war where we were split apart and emotionally scarred.  Like our split and injured Nation, our family is getting back together, too.

A few years ago, this vacation would not have been possible because I never thought I would ever see my mom's parents again and I wasn't sure I really wanted to either.  We have had to travel a long and hard road to get back together as a family, but I believe the road to reunification was well worth the journey.  I am glad we are a family once more.

From the April 1995 FMS Newsletter