Activated - - News - By Anna Per­lini 1. http://www.pe­run­mon­domigliore.org Anna Per­lini is a co­founder of Per un Mondo Migliore, 1 a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­tive in the Balkans since 1995.

He was once quite tall and car­ried an air of con­fi­dence and au­thor­ity wher­ever he went. When he was young, he ded­i­cated ev­ery spare mo­ment, in­clud­ing his hol­i­days, to Chris­tian youth min­istry. He had gone through a per­sonal con­ver­sion in his early twen­ties and was very zeal­ous in his be­liefs and prac­tices. He’d or­ga­nize sum­mer camps in the moun­tains for flocks of youth who had just gone through the hard years fol­low­ing WW2 and needed a fa­ther or an older brother fig­ure.

Then came the chal­leng­ing years when his own kids were grow­ing up and turned into some ide­al­is­tic but quite re­bel­lious teenagers, de­ter­mined to change the sta­tus quo and seem­ingly throw­ing all his teach­ings out the win­dow. Not know­ing how to re­act, he closed up to them, es­pe­cially to his el­dest daugh­ter who left home very young and made choices he couldn’t un­der­stand at all. His heart was bro­ken, but he kept it all in­side.

He de­cided he couldn’t face her any­more, and so five long painful years went by. In the mean­time, she got mar­ried and started hav­ing kids of her own. One day, he fi­nally mus­tered up the courage to visit her and meet his son-in-law and two grand­chil­dren for the first time. It was a very brief visit, but the first step had been taken, and the next ones were eas­ier.

Fam­ily re­unions soon re­sumed, like spring af­ter a long, cold win­ter. No­body wanted to talk about the past, and mis­takes on all sides were for­given. It’s not like every­one saw eye to eye, but a new sense of ad­mi­ra­tion and un­con­di­tional love was spring­ing up, and along with that, em­pa­thy and wis­dom.

I know this be­cause I am that el­dest daugh­ter. When I spoke with my mom and other rel­a­tives, they all said they watched him go through an amaz­ing trans­for­ma­tion from a zeal­ous but of­ten in­tran­si­gent be­liever to a zeal­ous but more mer­ci­ful and lov­ing one.

When my own chil­dren grew into teenagers and young adults, guess who en­cour­aged me more than once to stay close to them and show them sym­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing? My dad. At the same time, I now knew first­hand what a big job he had had and felt more un­der­stand­ing for him.

Now he’s al­most 90, his back is hunch­ing and he doesn’t walk as fast as he used to, but he still reads, writes, prays daily, and helps the needy. He shows love and wel­comes every­one in his home. He’s moved to tears watch­ing a sun­set. He has five kids, 14 grand­chil­dren, and nine great-grand­chil­dren.

He has passed on a great legacy and we jok­ingly call him “the pa­tri­arch.” But I think his great­est ex­am­ple was the day he said to me, “Please for­give me.”

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