Saturday, June 18, 2011

My dad...

The day started out just like any other day. Brian left for work and I loaded up the kids for story hour at the library. It was a nice fall day outside, late September. Library days were special, the lady running the story hour was one of those ladies that was meant to be a librarian. As we headed home we were just chatting away about the story and the crafts done that day. That's where the day ceased to be normal.

When I got home, I noticed my husband's car in the garage and I thought, "Hmm, hope the church didn't fire him!" (with a chuckle) Little did I know the news he did have for me when I got inside. He came out to help get kids out of car seats and I noticed he was not acting like himself. I got inside first and noticed a note on the counter with the name of a funeral home. I turn around and asked him; "Did my dad die?" The look in his eyes told me everything. I burst into tears.

The next week was a blur with making plans. We lived in South Dakota, the funeral was in Iowa and my dad died in Colorado. Lots of plans needed to be made. I remember being just numb, not knowing how to feel. We even found laughter as we realized we had final say in two things. First of all my dad was extremely afraid of heights and said he would never fly; well we flew his body to Iowa! Second, my dad was notorious for mixing stripes and plaids and just never quite matching, we made sure his clothes matched at his funeral! He actually would have laughed at these two things!

I grieved many things that week and to be honest for years to come. The end of my dad's life was marked with much sorrow. He lived in a rented room, in a city hundreds of miles from family. He chose to turn to alcohol to soothe his pain. He cut off all contact from me two years before he died. I tried calling, writing, seeking help from my uncle; all to no avail. I felt as though I was unworthy of his love. So when I found out he was gone, my first reaction was, "He can't hurt me any more."

Growing up,  I knew my dad was not perfect; life just seemed to be difficult for him. One thing I knew though, he loved me. He was a goofy guy, who would always go the extra mile to make birthdays more special. We would always pick out the annual Christmas tree together, and every year, it was uglier than the year before! One year we picked out a tree in October, determined to get a good one. When we went to cut it down; someone had stolen it! So, another ugly tree.

He loved that birthday cake!

After my parents divorced and my dad moved to Colorado, our relationship consisted of letter writing. I would write him often telling of my life and sending him pictures. When I got married he proudly and nervously walked me down the aisle. Things seemed to be going great. He was so proud of his granddaughters and would brag about them and try to see them whenever he could. Then in 1993 all contact ceased.

Walking me down the aisle.

It was in 1993 that I felt led to address my dad's drinking. I shared from my heart how it concerned me. I went on to share Jesus with him. You see, my dad was not a Christian, and that bothered me immensely. I wrote this all in a letter to him, as that was our primary means of communication. It was the last letter of mine he ever opened. He kept every letter, but never opened them. He never even saw a picture of my son. Those years were so very hard on me. I felt he had rejected me. I was a 28 year old mother, who still wanted her daddy's approval and love.

When I went to Colorado to settle up my dad's affairs, I met with the lady who was with him when he died. My dad drove cab and this lady was in his cab when he had the heart attack. It was a long trip to the airport, so they had plenty of time to talk. My dad shared with her all about me. That really confused me, the man who refused to answer my letters or calls still bragged about me. He hadn't rejected me after all! What he had done however was condemn himself, he thought since he was an alcoholic, he was unlovable. The prison his mind must have been in at that time, I can't even imagine.

For years, I lived with a deep sense of regret. How dare I write my dad that letter? How dare he assume I wouldn't love him? Why hadn't he turned to Jesus? Did he turn to Jesus? I drove myself crazy with all these thoughts. Then one year on his birthday I released it all, I forgave him for the hurt he caused me, and I left it all in God's hands. I won't know until I get to heaven if my dad turned to Jesus; but God has assured me I did my part.

Following is a poem my dad wrote to me in college. He mounted it on a wooden heart he made for me. It gives me some comfort that yes, I was loved. My uncle read it again at my dad's funeral, it was a reminder of the dad he wanted to be, before alcohol stole him away!

Brenda Dear...
 You are such a sport and scholar about you I want to shout and holler. 
Even though we are miles apart; Your smiles are treasures in my heart. 
 You are to me a joy and special love, for you are my little snow white dove. 
You've always been a special pearl, and yes you'll always be your daddy's little girl. 
 Just to see you gleam, seems to be my fondest dream. 
You will never know just how much you've made me glow. 
 I love to share your cheeers and wipe from your eyes your tears. 
Whenever I feel blue, my heart remembers you. 
 You will never so far that when I see a star, 
My heart is of good cheer, for I feel you very near. 
 And then to add some clout, in case there's any doubt--there really hadn't oughter,
For you'll always be by daughter...Brenda

I still get sad at times when I think about him. I even get angry, wondering why couldn't I have had a father who was there for me. Its at these times when God whispers in my ear, I'm there for you, I'm your Father. God is such a loving Father, His arms have held me tight in this grieving process. He has always been there for me  and my heavenly Father has written me a letter. It's a love letter, the Bible. It is there I find the most comfort and its there I get the "hugs" I so desperately long for!!

4 comments:

  1. Brenda, this is such a touching story about your dad. Thank you for sharing it. Praise to the Perfect Father in heaven Who loves us always. {HUGS}

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  2. And we cry "Abba Father" - my daddy. So thankful that we have the arms of our heavenly father to cling to.

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  3. Wow. Thank you for sharing this.

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