Saying “Forgive me,” is not always the easiest thing to do, and yet it is.
When I wrote my first novel, Redemption Song, I wrote with the intention of telling the story of those who’d had no voice. It was a story about slavery, love and redemption. It is still one of my favorites, and also one of my greatest errors.
In Redemption Song, I used the name of the man who own the land that my family lived on during slavery. I used his name as the name of the evil slave owner. It sounded like a good idea at the time.
When my mother read the book, however, she told me that she loved it, but that I had made a big mistake. According to her, John Hunn had been a good man, and my ancestors were not his slaves.
Still, I didn’t believe her. My mother and I had had a rocky road and she had told me too many other things; things that no child should hear, believe or remember.
Years later, as my mother lay dying in a hospital, I heard the television behind her and there it was; her redemption and truth; John Hunn had not been a slave owner, he was an abolitionist.
I began to find documents and information that had not been available to me prior to my writing of Redemption Song and learned that mother had been so right.
I began writing a new book, The Ties That Bind, and in it, I told the story of my family and its connection to the southern-most conductor on the Underground Railroad. I also told the story of my mother; a story that I did not learn until her passing; for as John Hunn had destroyed his journals, my mother had been writing journals for me to be read after her passing.
It was only then that I learned her struggle and discovered why she had been as she was.
Before her passing, my mother had transformed, she had become the kind of mother every woman wants; she did it by simply saying “Forgive me.”
As I grow older and am experiencing just a little of what she felt, I too must say forgive me.
I say it to my ancestors, my children and myself.
As difficult as it may seem, it is so much easier than holding the bag.
Today, a piece will air on CBN that tells our story. Here’s a link for you to find it now. http://www.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2015/February/Slavery-Not-as-Black-and-White-as-History-Reports/
I love you, forgive me.
Bertice Berry, PhD