When I was in Africa, in Gabon, Libreville, I was invited to live in the Magicians Quarter, Le quartier des magiciens, as I am considered to be a magus, a seer, a man of uncommon powers. When not in town – most of the time – I lived in the villages. A fellow magician told me one day, unsolicited, that I must reconcile with my parents, that he had felt that I was distant from them, and that the scars they had inflicted were deep. He warned me that if I did not forgive them, I would never heal.

I had not seen my parents for at least 35 years. When I retuned to Wales, I found them. My mother was in the same village in which she had been born, in which she had grown to an adolescent, when she married my father at age fifteen. My father lived alone in another distant village, away from all family.

Neither of them expressed any particular pleasure in seeing me after so many years. Neither of them felt any regret or remorse for having abandoned me. Neither reunion was happy. My mother was fine; so I said goodbye. I never saw her again. My father had no food in his remote cottage. His health was not good. Without asking his permission, I went to the market for food, then cooked him a meal. We spoke very little. I cleaned his house. I did his laundry. I asked about his medications. I even cleaned his false teeth. I bathed him. I did everything within my power to take care of him.

When it was time for him to go to sleep on the bed I had refreshed with clean bedding and blankets, I tucked him in, as if he were a child. I kissed his forehead. I had tears in my eyes. That sad, pathetic man was my father. While he slept, though, as his breathing was rough, I thought momentarily of using a pillow to put him out of his misery, I thought of smothering him. I am not afraid of death. The act even of ending his life would not have bothered me. In that case, though, I chose not to be an arbiter of fate. He had been so very cruel to me, then he had left me on my own. I was not there for revenge; I was there for forgiveness. As he slept, I spoke the words aloud, ‘I forgive you, Da.’ Then I left.

Weeks later, I got the news. He had passed. When asked if I would come up for his funeral, I said, ‘No, we already said our goodbyes.’

A couple of years later, my mother passed. I have not been back to her village.

We cannot choose our families. They are given to us by destiny. From my mother, I got wistfulness, passion, and alcoholism; from my father, intelligence, perfect pitch, and insanity. I am grateful for all I was given.