Kevin Walker’s Journey Towards Forgiveness

I haven’t done a Brothers and Sisters write-up for some time, but last night’s two-hour episode was awesome.  I’ve always liked Kevin, the gay character.  He’s a cocky, intelligent, liberal lawyer with a bunch of sarcastic one-liners.  But I like him because he’s hilarious.

But, last night, we get to learn a little more about him.  When he was a teenager in the 1980’s, he was insecure, socially-awkward, and had no friends.  Sometime during that stage of his life, he was at a party at his dad’s business (Ojai foods), and he brought a friend from another school, Aaron, who was a swimmer.  He and Aaron went outside late in the party, and Aaron tried to kiss him.  Kevin liked Aaron, but he felt uncomfortable because homosexuality was stigmatized in the 1980’s, and Kevin was confused.  Kevin and Aaron got into a fight, and Aaron fell off a cliff.  Right at that moment, Kevin’s dad, William Walker, shows up and sternly instructs Kevin to get into the car.  (William probably showed up because Kevin’s brother, Tommy, had just been in a drinking-and-driving accident.  Tommy turned out to be all right, though.)  Aaron is taken to the hospital, and William and his wife, Nora, tell Kevin that Aaron’s all right.

But Aaron’s not all right.  He’s paralyzed.  William sends checks to Aaron on a regular basis, and Nora continues that practice after William dies.  Kevin knows nothing about this until he’s 38 (his current age on the show).  Nora realized when Kevin was a teenager that he was sweet and insecure, and she didn’t want to burden him with the guilt of accidentally causing somebody’s paralysis.  And Nora couldn’t find a “right time” to tell Kevin the truth.  When Kevin was in law school, that wasn’t the right time.  And, as the years went by, the harder it became for Nora to come clean.

Until Dennis York forces her hand.  Dennis York was William’s hit-man, if you will.  He made problems (with unions and other things) miraculously go away.  Years later, Dennis York wants to buy Ojai foods from Nora, her family, and Holly, William’s mistress.  People suspect that he’s after a valuable piece of property called “Narrow Lake,” which the Walkers own, and which we learned last night was an anagram for “Nora Walker.”  Dennis threatens to Nora that he will reveal to her family that William and she have been paying checks to Aaron for several years, if she doesn’t get her family to sell.  And so Nora frantically urges the people in her family to give up their shares of Ojai.

But Kevin learns what really happened to Aaron, and he’s upset with his mom, Nora, for hiding the truth from him for all of those years.  He pays a visit to Aaron, who now has a partner and has moved on with his life.  Aaron tells Kevin that he (Kevin) needs to come to terms with what he did and move on, but he can’t do that with Aaron.  Meanwhile, Kevin’s family is telling Kevin’s partner, Scotty, about what Kevin’s going through.  Scotty wondered why Kevin didn’t show up earlier that day to something related to a baby they want to adopt, but now he knows, and he’s in a position to support his husband.

Kevin’s family tries to reassure him.  Sometimes, Kevin feels suffocated and needs to leave his relatives and husband to sort things out for himself.  At other times, his family offers him helpful insights.  His sister Kitty tells him that, just as she cannot control whether or not her cancer will return, so Kevin could not have controlled which way Aaron fell.  Accidents happen, and this one was not Kevin’s fault.

But Kevin still has a hard time forgiving his mother, Nora.  At the end of the show, when the family is celebrating Justin and Rebecca’s elopement, Kevin is getting up to leave, and Nora says to him, “Please, talk to me.”  Kevin replies, “I can’t, at least not right now.”  Nora tells him to remember that she loves him, and he responds, “I know.”  Then, he leaves.

This last scene reminds me of the movie, Dolores Claiborne.   In it, a lady named Selena was upset at her mother, Dolores, for killing her father when she was younger.  Selena loved her father.  In the course of the movie, however, we see some things that Selena had suppressed for many years: that her father had physically abused her mother and had sexually abused her.  At the end of the movie, Selena says to her mother, “I do not approve of what you did, but I can understand why you did it.” 

That’s pretty much where Kevin is.  Sometimes, I get the impression from certain religious people that forgiveness is supposed to be easy: that I can simply wave a magic wand and perform a labotomy that causes me to forgive what a person did to me and to make peace with it.  But forgiveness is not always easy.  Often, it’s a process.  Kevin and Selena are not at the point where they can be chummy with their mothers, for there are such factors as hurt pride (in Kevin’s case) or loss (in the case of Selena).  But at least they have reached a point where they understand that their mothers were looking out for them, and that can lessen whatever anger they may feel.  At this point, that’s the best they can do.  We’re called to forgive, but we’re human beings with emotions, not robots.     

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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