In her most recent blog post, Good family friend, Karen Spears Zacharias describes a reunion the Good family siblings had with their estranged ex Manson follower/sister Sandra Good.
Forty years have come and gone since their sister sat vigil outside the Hall of Justice, echoing the sentiments of Charles Manson and vehemently defending his actions and the actions of former Family followers Bobbie Beausoleil, "Tex" Watson and the girls on the nights of the Hinman/Tate-LaBianca/Shea murders, and telling all who would listen that those murders would be only the first in a long line of revenge killings if "The Pigs" (The Establishment) didn't free Manson and the other convicted killers.
And with the Good family members, as with the family members of all the former Manson followers, I'm sure, Sandy's words and deeds probably cut like a Buck knife through their very souls, that a blood relative of theirs, who had a well-healed childhood and a loving, real family, could now boast of membership in a false, murderous one and proudly defend the act of cold-blooded murder and the actions of those in her midst.
With this in mind, one wonders how Sandy's siblings ever found the mental fortitude to reunite with their wayward sister and forgive, if not forget, that which many of us on the outside of her family cannot.
In their defence, Zacharias points to the fact that Sandy's siblings were not easily swayed to the idea, that one sister and the brother were in fact adamantly against any kind of reunion, and that it was on the impetus of the other sister and a devout Christian sister-in-law, the brother's wife, who were able to turn the tide at the 11th hour and get all three siblings to agree to such a meeting.
I'm sure though, that right up to the time of their arrival, all three of Sandy's siblings wrestled with the uncertainty of their decision, to forgive and take back into the fold, as it were, a sister who had so willingly disowned all of them, all those many years ago when she chose to follow Manson into Hell.
I'm sure they reminisced about the hurt and the embarrassment and the sorrow and the disappointment their parents suffered, knowing that one of their own, if she had been chosen on those horrific nights of murder, would have gladly and gleefully gone along, Buck knife well in hand and a smile on her face. I'm sure they thought back to Sandy's vigils on the corner of Temple and Broadway during the trials, her later adopting that silly colour blue in all that she wore and stood for as bequeathed to her by Charlie in The Order of the Rainbow, and her determination to send through the U.S. federal mail system the death threats to various C.E.O.s of industrial corporations, that if they didn't stop polluting they would stop living.
And no doubt, their minds wandered back to the times they visited her in prison and the arguments I'm sure they all had with her when Sandy refused to renounce Charlie and his beliefs, even at the thought of going to Hell, as one of her sisters declared, even at the thought of total estrangement from her real family for a Family which no longer existed.
Sure, with time and age, and a new man in her life now and a new beginning somewhere in Northern California, I have no doubt that Sandy has mellowed and matured, her eyes no longer vacant and devoid of feeling, her expression no longer harsh and threatening, and her renunciation of Manson sincere and permanent. But when are the actions and words of another too much to forgive and is there a limit to the amount of hurt one can inflict on members of their own family?
If this life experience aptly demonstrates the saying, "To turn the other cheek", then this monumental decision by Sandy's siblings to reunite with their estranged sister has got to be the Mother of All Turns!
Maybe none of us outside the families of any of the former Manson Family followers will ever truly appreciate the magnitude of the damage these once violent kids wrought on their siblings. Maybe the saying, "Don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes." is glaringly true. And maybe this is the reason I myself am finding such difficulty in appreciating and accepting their decision to forgive Sandy and to open their hearts and arms to a girl who so many years ago refused to do the same for them.
Regardless, however any of the family members of Charlie's ex- followers achieve any measure of inner peace, whether through forgiveness or total and final estrangement, peace and contentment is what I wish for them all.