A certain brand of optimism had been required for James Franklin to forgive his father, to forget their past. But now it was being tested. In his father’s new home, Franklin listened to his father’s new wife deny his father’s sins against him, his sister and their mother.
Then Franklin’s father, also named James, stopped her. It was true, he said. He had done awful things to his former wife and their two children. A proud, stubborn man who was now defeated and dying, Franklin finally admitted this to his son. He was painfully frail, an oxygen tank by his side, cancer attacking his spine and lungs. Still, a sense of righteousness filled the younger Franklin. He wanted his mother and sister to feel it too.
Within a month, his father would be dead. But not before Franklin recruited him to visit their old home in Langhorne, Pa., where his father’s alcoholism and violence had ruined a marriage and nearly destroyed his family.