"We are in the process of becoming what we already are," ~Rev. James D. Swearingen
I mentioned taking a detour in my writing. While I am still working on Klenard and the world war, this short trip is not only self-reflection, but the story of a person who went through trauma and still managed to balance his life. This is in reference to my grandfather, the Rev. James D. Swearingen.
He was a different man than what my father and uncles knew. But that is another story. This one is the man that rose above those problems, the person I knew. The man I remembered talking on the phone and playing chess, either in person (when he flew from CA with Grandma) or on MSN Zone. The man who took me to his favorite spot in San Francisco and related to me how, while in military academies, he would sit there to calm down.
I love what my grandmother put on her website: "Jim willingly, intentionally, poured out his life for others. He believed he was called to empty himself for God in His service. To Jim, that was the true calling of a priest." Ordained as an Episcopal Priest, he spent decades not only battling his own demons, but using those experiences to help others later in his life. When he could not help others because of his disabilities, he found other ways based on what he could do. He never let anything stop him.
I remember my first memories of Grandpa. I was very young, maybe I was 4ish. We all met at Gillette Castle. My father and Grandpa were playing chess outside. We took turns at a water fountain. And then, Grandma (my grandfather's second wife, not my father's mother) took me and my sister by the hand. She was young, maybe a dozen or so years older than my parents, and she was beautiful. We walked around the inside of Gillette Castle, in the back, where the greenhouse was. It was really crowded...
That first impression left a mark because of the kindness and compassion. It also was the beginning of their relationship with us. I always looked forward to every communication. I enjoyed my time visiting. The more I learned, the more I understood that people can change. They can understand their trauma and pour their whole lives into helping others like them. That takes strength and courage through self-doubt and weakness...and a lot of boundaries.
For more information (for now) about my grandfather, please visit: https://lynnswearingen.kartra.com/page/jim_swearingen