Updated:23 November 2009
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It is fascinating how truth can come to light in unexpected ways.
For example, In your last letter to me dated October 1, you stated you were "done" with your grandfather and summarily shut him out of your life. Surprised and shocked by this, I shared it Birgitta immediately. After reflecting, she wrote you for clarification and received a similar letter from you..
To give background to this astonishing development, you will recall that it was precipitated by concern for my friend, Priest John Hennies, depicted in the newspaper article above. In wondering how to help him most quickly, I thought of you, since the scam had originated in London and I had a newly married granddaughter living with her new English husband and family in or near London. I decided to appeal to you and your new relatives for help after contacting your mother for your latest address. (Am now having a deja vu about this!)
BTW, though you may not be interested to learn it, my above-mentioned priest friend managed to foil the scam artist so totally that neither he, nor any other person contacted by the would be perpetrator lost a penny. Providence provided.
Nevertheless, this tempest-in-a-tea-pot crisis brought to light a most interesting reality for your grandfather, once he began to understand the forces were at work on members of his family, whether active Mormons or not. The only defense that I know of that can prevail against such dark forces are those of Light, and that is the purpose of this open letter. Your old grandpa will not go down without trying to bring Light into a dark subject that has plagued our family for generations. That is what motives him. You may be done with him, but he is not done with you.
To refresh your memory, here is what I wrote on September 30
Special timely request (may be too late by now, in any case).
Your mother tells me your father-in-law works in London. Can he or Scott or someone there check out the address below?
212 Cromwell Rd
Here’s why. Our old priest, Fr. John Hennies, 79, has just been wiped out financially by a hacker who stole his email address book and then changed his password so that he can no longer access his records or warn his friends. The hacker asked for money to be sent to the address above. Some of Fr. John’s friends and family called him to ask about it and he was able to warn them. But many others all over the country (and other countries!) have already sent $$ without questioning the message. He is devastated and wants to reimburse everyone taken in by the scam. But that is impossible unless they contact him directly.
I thought there might be a chance to help him solve the case if someone could check out this address and get back to us.
On October 1, you replied:
You obviously did not receive my previous email... I know this will come as a surprise to you, but please do not contact me again - for any reason (or pester my mother or other family members regarding this request). It is none of their concern - this is because I have grown weary over the years of the drama that surrounds you - the company you keep, your philosophies on life, the carbon copying, and your alarmingly clueless, yet blatant, for those who bare the brunt of it, lack of respect when it comes to communicating with family. I'm done.
On October 3, 2009, Birgitta wrote:
The other day, your grandfather rushed into the bedroom and loudly exclaimed “What a shock!” He said he had received a shocking e-mail from his favorite grand-daughter. He explained and later let me read your unbelievable msg. It was shocking to me too! What on earth got into you, Annie? Because of the very little communication that has occurred between you, it seems obvious to me that the words in your short message to him do not come from your own experience of your grandpa, but from words you have heard the adults around you say as you were growing up. He has always shared with me the letters from his family, sometimes with joy and sometimes with deep pain.
I dared marry your grandpa 16 years ago, after corresponding with him over a period of 17 years, partly because of his longing for reconciliation with all the members of his family. He had made that word his life motto, reconciliation being one of the most beautiful words in the English language to me. We all do the best we can in the circumstances we find ourselves with the knowledge we have. When we know better, we do better. Your grandpa may not have been the best father or grandpa in the past, because he didn’t know better, but I have observed first-hand how much thought and work has gone into his efforts to connect with all of you and to try to share with you all, from his innermost being the best he knew how. Life with your grandpa has not been the easiest at times, but in the 16 years we have had together, I have seen him grow in grace, love, patience and thoughtful caring, self-control and inner strength as well as in fFaith in God, things that the Scriptures call “Fruits of the Spirit”. He is always willing to forgive and is always willing to help anyone who asks him for help. I am not saying that he has no faults. One of them is that he is at times extremely impulsive and often naïve, which are child-like qualities and surprising when found in an adult and which sometimes give him trouble, like now in his impulsive act to ask you to help out in this scam on his friend the priest whom he respects so deeply and wanted to help in an emergency. His naivité is probably something that he will always have, but is that an unforgivable fault? Your grandpa Gene has a very active mind and lively intellect, and he is often brilliant, and he can come on too strong. He also has blind spots in practical down-to-earth matters? Are those unforgivable faults?
I am sorry, Annie, but I think that you have acted quite unlovingly and thoughtlessly. How could you reject and hurt your grandfather in this way? Why didn’t you just let him know that it was not convenient for you to go and check that address or too far, too risky, or whatever reason. I would have been ashamed if I had ever spoken to my elders that way, no matter their faults, and especially to a loving grand-parent. It is not a Christ-like reaction of a professing Christian. And, Annie, what do you know about “the company he keeps”, or his “philosophies on life”. You mention his “lack of respect”, but what about your own lack of respect? Christ said: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34)
I am not holding you totally responsible for your attitude; we all have attitudes of one kind or another because of our upbringing and indoctrination, but we can all grow and mature through our experiences and willingness to understand ourselves and others. We all have baggage to get rid of on our journey in life, don’t you think?
On another note, congratulations on your marriage! We sent a little gift for you to Katya’s home. We are very sorry not to be able to come to you reception in Texas at the end of the month. But under the circumstances, you may not want to see us then anyway. Your harsh words to Zhenya does not change his love for you, nor my feelings for you. We’ll just leave the ball in your court.
With love and best wishes to you and your Scott,
Your step-grandma Birgitta
To which you replied the next day:
From: Annie Martin [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Sunday, October 04, 2009 3:44 AM
To: Birgitta Kovalenko
Subject: Re: A comment
I appreciate the time and emotion you put into your email. Thank you for the well-wishes on my marriage.
As for the effect of your email - I don't really know how to respond. I do not wish to be rebuked or have you cast shame upon me again.
I will say this: over the course of my life, I have seen my mother in tremendous pain because of her father's words and actions. This is not only because of the events of her childhood and being abandoned and neglected by the only father she had, it's things that have happened in recent years as well.
I would love to have had an idealistic grandchild-grandparent relationship as I've grown up, but I didn't. Your husband is the only living grandfather I have, but he feels like a stranger to me - he just hasn't been there... to watch me grow up, etc. A good relationship is built upon a foundation of trust and love, and sharing experiences together. ...And, I fear the time for that has past.
I wish both of you the best,
22 November 2009
Dear Annie, the time for developing true community, built on a foundation of trust and love and the sharing experiences is never past. [See: A Different Drum, by M. Scott Peck]. But now I know how you really feel! And that is progress! Your rejection of your grandpa is not a new experience for him, as you undoubtedly know. It wasn't for Jesus, either. But if you really believe in "true community" (as Peck defines it in A Different Drum and which Jesus taught), where all are accepted for who they are and feel free to tell the truth of what they think and feel (as you are doing now), then one day you and I will communicate again. I want to know the real you, Annie, not someone who postures and pretends. You may want to know her someday, too.
Strangely enough, on 23 November 2009 I received this card from you sent from England on 18 Nov....
Dear Annie, in light of your letters of October 1 and 3, don't you think your note is disingenuous? You didn't have to send the card, so please don't pretend with us. If you want a relationship of any substance or authenticity with me, then put all your complaints on the table. Birgitta and I can handle them. Don't hold anything back, because I sense a lot of hostility in you. Let's empty it out so it can be transformed into something creative and meaningful.. But be sure your complaints are based on your own experience with your grandfather and not on hearsay. You mention watching your mother suffer. Tell me about what that has to do with me and be specific. Otherwise it is simply gossip. I want to see if my granddaughter has the courage of her convictions to continue to speak plainly.
In the meantime please consider how you come across in addressing me and others, in case your parents or church leaders or school teachers didn't teach you this. Even if you don't care, I prefer to be addressed by you as "Grandpa Gene", as you have done all your life and in your last note from England. However, on the envelope I would prefer "Dr." or "Mr." If you choose just "Eugene Kovalenko" or "Gene", that would signal disrespect. Your grandmother Ruth would always address me as "Dr. Eugene Kovalenko" in the HUGE amount of correspondence between us over decades. HOWEVER, when she was irritated with me she would typically leave off BOTH the title and my first name. Thus, whenever I saw just "E. N. Kovalenko" on an envelope from her, I could count on an unhappy message or complaint.
Do yourself and your husband and relatives over there a favor and read M. Scott Peck's The Different Drum about community as taught by Jesus.