from lotstoforget - Monday, March 14, 2005
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Daniel Roselle and I shared the same childhood
By Regi Roselle, 28, second-generation member of the Family International.
A year and a half ago I sent my immediate family an email announcing the birth of our second daughter, and a photo. Most responded with the usual congratulations and well wishes. My brotherís reply however, read:
You work for Zerby, a mentally damaged and damaging woman. I donít consider you my sister. With future births, please leave me off your emailing list.
* * *
It wasnít always like this. Daniel and I were born 18 months apart and spent much of our lives as each othersí shadowĖlike most siblings I suppose. I looked up to him as my smart big brother with incredible imagination. He was always doing something creative: exploring, dressing up as famous characters, or building something. He seemed to make friends so easily. I wanted so much to be like him.
My clearest memories and highlights of our childhood are from Panama, where we lived for 5 years: I remember our big yard, our dog, the countless cats we seemed to collect. We had a large mango tree with a tire swing. Our patio was piled with bicycles and often some new ďpetĒ we had managed to catch, tadpoles turning into frogs, a box turtle. Once we even found an iguana and chased it around the yard. We gave it to our maid. We spent the afternoons playing and being kids, without a care in the worldĖoh for the joys of childhood.
The day he first went off to school I begged our mom to let me go too. I mustíve been too young because I remember having to wait. The day came when I got my school uniform and lunch box and strode proudly to the school bus. I later found public school to be impersonal and first grade was too easy so I asked to be taught at home again.
I donít remember everything that happened in our lives, obviously, but what I do remember is that it was pretty good. I strongly remember two foundational truths about my parents that shaped my character as an adult, and which, I think, give a clear picture of our childhood.
One of them was that our parents truly loved us and put our needs and often wants before theirs. We had a friend from Sunday school who came over to play with us sometimes. His parents invited me for a sleepover at his house. He had more toys than I did, but his mom didnít come by at all while I was there, not even to say goodnight. I donít even remember his dad. This was such a surprise to me because I took it for granted that parents always read to their kids before bed, that singing and hanging out together as a family was the norm.
My parents loved each other too and often held hands and whispered things to each other that made them smile. I have no recollection of them arguing or raising their voice at each other. I didnít realize what a feat of love and godly marriage that was until I later started dating. My admiration for my parentsí relationship shot way up when I thought of their commitment to make our home a happy one.
The other thing I remember is that my parents loved the Lord and taught us to do the same. They loved the life of a missionary, they loved helping people, and they had great faith. We sometimes lived with or nearby another family and had their support and fellowship, but still, living in foreign countries with little children is a life thatís not for everybody and my parents managed to do it so seamlessly we never noticed what all it must have involved.
My point is that we were happy. We didnít get everything we wanted, nor were we the most fashionably dressed kids in the neighborhood, but most of the time we didnít care. Our parents loved us and took good care of us. We got to visit the world, learn languages, taste an array of cuisines, make friends of numerous nationalities, sing and perform plays for thousands, from orphanages, to hospitals, to churches.
I love my life and I wouldnít trade my childhood with anyone. My only complaint for a time was that my parents were somewhat conservative and I didnít know much about ďthe birds and the beesĒ until I was a teenager, but hey. Looking back, Iím glad for that. Life was simple and the world was a playground.
Unfortunately, the mind is a powerful thing and memories form to our thinking. As brothers and sisters we shared the same childhood, but we seem to have vividly different perspectives on our past. Iím sorry my brother has so much hatred toward life and toward my parents. Itís sad. It must be hard for them. I canít imagine how I would feel if one of my children were to do the same to me. It makes me cry to think of it.
My brother and I were close as teenagers too, and when we visited we could talk about anything. I remember when he told me he was leaving the Family because he didnít agree with some of the beliefs that were fundamental to the Familyís lifestyle. What he chose to do didnít make much difference to me. He was my brother, my cool big brother, and I supported him as I knew he would support me in my choices. In the last 4 or 5 years things digressed between us, he was friendly but distant for a time, until to his last email when he renounced me as his sister. He encouraged me over the years to leave the Family because I could make good money with the skills that I have. When I became an adult and had to make the choice, I chose to live the Family lifestyle, because I believe in it, because my children are happy and safe, because Iím living for others, because I believe Jesus has called me to this life.
I managed to land myself the perfect man and start a family. Iím proud of my parents and proud to say that I have tried, by Godís grace, to pattern my marriage after theirs, and be the kind of parents they are. I keep them up to date with our life and our kids and ask them to share their secrets of success.
Dad and Mom, I hope you know that I thank God every day for you. Whatever your son may now decide to say about you and about his life, please remember the times when he told you that you are the best parents ever. As a child he said he was happy, and they say that children canít lie very well. History can be rewritten and memories created or elaborated, weíve all done it to some extent.
Mom, after giving your life, your time, your money, and your health for Daniel and for all of us for so many years, if he tells you something that hurts you, please think of me, and the others of your kids, who would stand up proudly and tell the world that if we could pick our parents, we wouldnít hesitate to again choose you.
I owe the success of my marriage and the happiness we share as a family to what I saw in you, and to my life in the Family. As an adult, I am responsible for my choices and where I am in life, but Mom and Dad, I do hope that I have made you proud.