A word from Curt
“Two Sisters” is my favorite story from Hearts across Water.
My wish is that this story of forgiveness and reconciliation during a hurricane will spur you on to close the gap on any broken relationships in your life.
Tell a good story.
Those two sisters, Katrina and Rita, brought nothing but destruction and hard times to Louisiana.
However, for two Dry Creek sisters these hurricanes did bring about a positive reunion. Here is their story:
I won’t name them, but they both grew up in Dry Creek. Because they are both older than me, I didn’t know them really well growing up. But I love them and their families. Their grandparents were two of my role models and heroes as a boy.
I don’t know when or why the sisters fell out with each other. That part of the story is theirs to tell, not mine. Time, distance, and life can do that with a family. The older generation passes and the glue that often held branches of a family close can weaken. The result can be a breakdown in relationships.
These two Dry Creek girls, now older women, had not spoken in years. One still lives here while the other lives in Lake Charles. That distance of 55 miles might as well as have been 5500 miles for all of the communication that went on between these sisters.
But that all changed the week of hurricane Rita. That is when a wonderful reconciliation began. The Lake Charles area faced a mandatory evacuation order. Even though the storm would also be bad in Beauregard Parish, the Dry Creek sister planned to stay. So she then made the first step. She called her long-estranged sister in Lake Charles.
“Where are you going for the storm?”
“I really don’t know. I just plan to head north and find a motel.”
“No, that’s not what you’re going to do. You and your family are coming to Dry Creek and stay with us.” Both of these women have strong personalities. It runs in their family. It is also one of the things I love about this family.
The Lake Charles sister did not argue. I just wonder if she’d been hoping for this very call. And I wonder if the Dry Creek sister had been looking for a reason to pick up the phone and contact her sister.
So sister Rita, whom we have nothing good to say about, was the catalyst for this reunion. However, in fairness, I want to also give credit to bad sister Katrina.
You will never understand Rita and our reactions to it if you ignore Katrina. We had sunshine and clear skies on the day Katrina hit New Orleans. But the aftermath of Katrina affected everything about how SW Louisiana got ready for, and reacted to, Rita.
So these sister Hurricanes, eternally linked together in the hearts and minds of Louisianans for generations to come, brought about a reunion of two hearts…two families…two sisters.
In science we learn that a catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without itself being changed.
In life there are often emotional and spiritual catalysts. They are events and circumstances that force us out of our comfort zones and speed up everything going on in and around us. These speeded up changes can be good or bad.
These hurricanes became the catalyst for a long-awaited reconciliation between these two sisters. They spent the two weeks after Rita together, visiting, catching up on a decades worth of stories, laughter, and even sorrow.
I’d like to have been there to have watched it unfold in the days when Dry Creek had no electricity, water, and precious little food. I have a feeling that the good feelings from being together again nullified the loss of these luxuries we often take for granted.
The story of the two sisters got me thinking about the wonderful subject of forgiveness. Forgiveness is a gift we give others and in the meantime we receive the same gift. Forgiveness brings freedom…and freedom brings peace.
Unforgiveness brings bitterness. From bitterness, nothing good can come. It is the least productive of all human emotions. There is a wonderful saying that typifies this: “Holding a grudge and being bitter are like drinking poison and hoping it kills the other person.” Bitterness is acidic and it “harms the vessel in which it is stored more than the one on which it is poured.”
Forgiveness is not about forgetting. Rather, forgiveness is about saying, “It doesn’t matter anymore.” That, if possible, is even better than forgetting. It is the heart-thought, “Sure I remember this, but now it just doesn’t matter anymore.”
Right after Rita I read an excerpt from the recent autobiography by Jerry Lewis, Dean and Me: A Love Story. In it he relates how after ten years of successful partnership he and comedy partner Dean Martin became estranged. This continued until years later when Martin’s son, Dino, died in a plane crash. Through the events following the death of Dino Martin, these two partners and friends became reunited.
Once again a catalyst became the tool for reconciliation.
Once again, this catalyst was painful and tragic and unasked for…
But it resulted in a reconciliation that was beautiful and lasting—a relationship where two friends said, “What happened in the past doesn’t matter now. Now is when you need me and I will be there for you.”
As I think about the two sisters and their catalysts of Katrina/Rita, it is a good time to do inventory in my own life. Who is there out there that I need to pick up the phone and reconnect with? Why should we wait until tragedy or disaster strikes to make these moves? There is no better time than now. It is worth the risk and effort.
If you don’t believe that, I know two sisters… one in Dry Creek and the other in Lake Charles… who would recommend that you do it now.
Do whatever it takes…
Whatever it takes to make it right.