When my parents lived independently in their own home into their 80s and 90s, I often wondered what would change their circumstances, assuming only sudden death or serious illness. But my mom and dad would never enter into that discussion. Instead, I looked on helpless as first, my father, and then my mother, suddenly required hospital care. In three months my mother was gone.
You will find here not only my memories, but the spirituality, theology and psychology I relied on for the immediate and daunting prospect of caring for my emotionally distant father, with whom I had never been close.
Thankfully, my calling as a high school counselor, and then a pastor, served me well. As I sat by my father’s side for more than three years of listening to his stories, little by little I was able to overcome my fear of his criticism, and my self-consciousness. We became family.
My book is a tapestry of memory, poetry, scripture, spiritual thinkers, and heartfelt guidance for how to find the words beyond the words. It is appropriate for young adults dealing with difficult parents, for adults with deep commitment to work and children whose aging and ill parents suddenly require care, and even for those same parents who find themselves estranged from their children. The “safe” distances we create to protect our fragile egos may one day stand in our way when any one of us needs deep support. When the boundaries fall because of illness, age, or disease, our relationships change.
This is the story of my unexpected confrontation with a father I hardly knew.
Praise for Loving the Enemy
Loving the Enemy is a moving memoir. But it is far more than a journal of significant personal experience. Read it, and you will encounter an invitation to reimagine your life journey through the eyes of compassion. With poetic passion, humility, and wisdom, Catherine Fransson describes the transformation of relationships that can only emerge when love is stronger than fear. This is a groundbreaking book—a spiritual compass for adult children caring for their aging parents.Fran Ferder and John Heagle, Co-directors, Therapy and Renewal Associates (TARA)
I wanted to read this memoir because I, too, have an elderly parent who needs my attention. But Loving the Enemy swept me into its path and kept me up late, reading hungrily. I expected a simple chronicle of the author, her parents, and their last years together, but instead found a mix of personal and spiritual, past and present. It’s a tapestry woven of a lifetime of memories, rich though often painful; wisdom from poets and spiritual thinkers; and heartfelt guidance for how to find the words beyond the words. In chapter one, Cathy as a child escapes from a rainstorm into a church sanctuary where she plays the organ (breathing “remnants of candle wax, floor polish, and old hymnals”), a small scene that is a metaphor for the way Loving the Enemy offers a respite from the deluge of family losses—for both the author and the reader—into the solace and healing power of art.Bethany Reid, author of Sparrow and Body My House
Catherine Fransson has approached and passed over the threshold leading to that vast, uncharted territory called unconditional love, what Christian people all too glibly called grace. Imagine the work, the joy and the fulfillment of loving someone without conditions. It is one of the key journeys of life. This beautifully written book provides many insights and much guidance for that journey.Pastor Don Mackenzie, former minister and head of staff at University Congregational United Church of Christ in Seattle, who now devotes himself to the Interfaith Amigos.
- Publishing Date: September 2019
- Retail: $15.99
- Trade Paperback Edition. 238pgs, 6 x 9
- Trade ISBN: 978-1-7326690-0-0
- ebook ISBN : 978-1-73266-901-7, $4.99
About the Author
Catherine Fransson graduated from Everett High and the University of Washington. After a career as counselor at Roosevelt High in Seattle, she earned a Master of Divinity at Seattle University School of Theology and Divinity. Pastor Fransson served on the pastoral team at Seattle First Baptist Church from 2000 to 2015; she was adjunct professor at Seattle University ten of those years.