He shook his head and looked down to the groundn came to the United States from Sweden "Seventy years ago. I was four years old."
I ran into him in the grocery store parking lot. "I saw your post about Peace. I've got one for you." I asked him to give me a minute, that I needed to write this down. He then said, "Just dictate this into your phone as I'm telling you about it. Don't you know how to use that thing?"
Jan is very direct.
Jan said, "Peace is a sense that things are settled. Between two people, between two countries...settled. Standing on the same space together. Know what I mean?"
I told him I wasn't completely sure, and I asked him to give me an example.
"Years ago my daughter had a dream. She sent me an email about it and said that she dreamed I'd died. She said, "Not many came to the funeral. Everybody who did, though, felt a relief. You couldn't hurt anybody anymore. Your demons died with you."
Jan said, "My daughter actually wrote that to me."
I paused a second and replied, "that must have hurt to read that."
"No, actually," Jan said,"it hurt for a second, but I knew what she was referring to. See, I was gone a lot when she was a kid. And when I came home, I drank. When I drank, I got angry. When I got angry, I yelled. When I yelled, everybody flinched, cried, and scattered."
"Years later, my kids were relieved when I left their Mom."
Jan was quiet for a few second. "Since that time, I've stopped drinking, stopped focusing so much on myself, and have let my anger go. I don't get mad about anything anymore and if I do, which is somewhat rare these days, I walk it off."
"But what I was getting at is what happened with my daughter. Over the years, we've gotten some semblance of peace in our relationship because she "settled" her differences with me. She had I have had some talks. Actually, I listened, she spoke. She told me what she thought of me, that when she wrote that email, she wished I was dead."
"In that last talk we had, just a few weeks ago, we revisited this subject. I told her I completely understood. I told her that when I looked back at the person I was, and the damage I did, I wished he was dead, too. I didn't cry, though I wanted to. This was for her. And I hoped we'd start a new path."
"With her forgiveness, and the willingness for her to have me around again, we've restructured a relationship. I watch my moods, my feelings, but I try to focus just on her. She's my girl, and I love her so much."
"We're in a new place in our relationship. She doesn't walk on eggshells, and I'm quieter. I don't ask anything of her other than to have some tea with me once in a while. And I let her know how much I love her, how proud I am of her, and try to show her-through my new actions, my new self-that I love her unconditionally."
"We have settled at this new place of understanding. That's what Peace is to me. And I can't think of anything better than that peace I stand on together with my daughter."