The governor called this week to apologize.
Mark Sanford owes me no apologies, of course, for leaving the state untended, or forsaking Jenny and their four young sons to fall in love with a "soul mate" in Argentina.
I told him that. But I also said that for some reason I did take his behavior personally.
Maybe it's because my job has allowed me to sit with his beautiful mother at the family plantation near Beaufort. Peggy Sanford Peyton of Distant Island talked about being an Army brat who studied piano in Paris as a Fulbright scholar. When Mark and Jenny moved to the Governor's Mansion, Jenny invited Peggy to do a two-piano recital with Eunjoo Yun to benefit restoration of the Lace House on the mansion grounds.
Maybe it was because I wrote about the 10 bumper stickers on Jenny's silver Dodge minivan, an odd sight outside the tightly manicured mansion. She said the "Breathe" sticker was about her yoga. The Lowcountry Open Land Trust sticker was her way of saying: "The beauty of the Lowcountry is part of what makes it so special. We want to make sure it stays that way."
I've written about the boys when they produced a book about the Governor's Mansion, including the tale of sneaking a baby alligator from the "farm" into the fountain in front of the mansion.
I've pushed aside framed photographs of the boys in surfing gear to find books in the mansion library that belonged to one of my forebears. I have a snapshot of the governor looking with feigned interest at T.W. Lauderdale's signature in one of the books.
Sanford said he's calling a lot of people to apologize, but it's not unusual for him to call here. From day one, he's called to pitch ideas or disagree with an editorial. On one of these calls, I broke the news to him that Sea Pines founder Charles Fraser had died.
In a way, the call this week seemed like there'd been another death. Sanford talked about his downfall in the harshest terms. He called it "a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head."
Perhaps it was somber because these phone calls are a self-inflicted banal chore. More likely, it's because there really has been a death -- the death of a facade, the death of a cohesive family.
He laughed when I told him he'd given me good subject matter for Sunday school class. It's about the "bigger notions" he loves to ramble about. It's about forgiveness, which I'm told is offered from God unconditionally, like love or grace.
I appreciate the governor's call, even though for all practical purposes he had the wrong number. I told him I believe in forgiveness. I hope in time he finds it.