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Fri, Oct 31, 2014 10:27 PM
Issue of October 29, 2014

A hope note
A hope note
Dr. Wayne Willis reflects on life and hope.

True tales

June 18, 2014 | 02:52 PM

This is the true tale of two mothers and two sons.

For this mother's son, school was from the beginning a disaster. However hard he tried, reading, writing and arithmetic were unfathomable mysteries to him. He may have been dyslexic. His parents and teachers were confounded, but his doting mother believed in him unconditionally. "If you become a soldier," she told him, "you'll be a general. If you become a monk, you'll end up as the Pope." Her son was Pablo Picasso.

The other mother's son, Robert Benchley, beginning with the Harvard Lampoon and then through many articles published in Vanity Fair and The New Yorker, achieved fame as an author, humorist and actor. The future did not look very promising for Robert when he was 9. His older brother, Edmund, the apple of his mother Maria's eye, not long after he graduated from West Point, was killed in the Spanish-American War. When a bicycle messenger delivered the notification telegram to his mother, Robert, who was standing by her side, heard her cry out, "Why could it not have been Robert?" Mrs. Benchley repeatedly apologized to Robert and worked hard to atone for that unfiltered, grief-stricken, straight-from-the-gut utterance.

We all carry internal, invisible wounds or gifts related to sentences spoken to or about us when we were young. How can old sentences control us?

When we take curses to heart, we can allow them to script us for life. "You are unloved" may be the most toxic script of all to overcome; however, many people consider the source — and the circumstances — and move ahead.

A parent's sincere, prostrate apology and appeal for forgiveness, as with Maria Benchley, sometimes can help us move ahead.

Affirmation, like that of Dona Maria Picasso to son Pablo, can become a guiding blessing that lasts a lifetime.

Dr. Wayne Willis

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