A Father’s Love

I have had curiosity since I was a young child. I remember feeling different. I didn’t know why. I knew I had a sense of compassion at a very young age. I was 4 years old, when I was coloring pictures and my mission was “to give them to children in the hospital.” I can’t even say that I’d been in a hospital yet. But I had an innate sadness, for all those children, and had wanted to bring them some happiness.

My mother and father were still together then and I still remember all the stacks of pictures I colored. It was a picture of a little girl with a braid. Not sure how that was to make them happy, but I had good intentions.

I felt things that were deeply spiritual. I strong connection to God, although I never had any formal instruction, at such a young age. I remember a serious encounter when my father had put me down for a nap once.

My mother was in the hospital, having another baby. It seemed every year, she was giving birth. My father had me lay down, and he went outside with my two brother’s and sister. I still can’t remember why I had to take a nap and my younger sister and brother’s were allowed to stay up.  Perhaps it was, that I was the ‘mother,’ while my mother was gone. And I needed energy to help my father in his task.

I was laying on my bed, and looking around the room. I could hear the voices of my siblings outside the house. The sounds of summer. And here I was, forced to make sleep arise, from my energetic body. It just wouldn’t happen.

 All of a sudden, the door moved. Could one of them be playing a trick on me? Now it swung wide open, and closed, almost completely,before swinging wide again.

I sat up, eyes wide with fear. I saw no one. My door began swinging, wildly, back and forth, back and forth. I screamed! “Daddy! Daddy!” At this point I was almost hysterical, as my mind raced to try to make sense of this experience.

My father came running into my room and I was crying. Deep sobs, and screaming in fear, “Someone is pushing my door! I saw it moving!” “Oh honey, there’s nothing here.” He was trying to console me, but to no avail. I knew what I had seen. “Maybe you were starting to fall asleep and you imagined it.” “No! Daddy, I really saw it! I wasn’t sleeping at all and it was real!” At this point I was pleading with him. He could see that I would not be dismissed, and told me he was looking under my bed and in my closet, to prove that nothing was in my room.

“I’m not staying in here!” I told him. He gave in and told me to get up and come outside with him. To this day I remember the experience and how real it was. It seemed the demons entered in the house and our lives, that day. It was the beginning of my many heart breaks.

The baby which my mother had,was the youngest of my brother’s to die 13 month’s later. He contracted spinal meningitis. It seemed that Death and Misery, had come through my door, on that summer day. My father and mother divorced and I experienced a steady onslaught of pain, for the rest of my life.

I had one sickness after another. I was in third grade, when it was my turn to slide on the ice patch. The kid’s in my school lined up for this excitement. As I began to slide, I felt myself, almost floating down to the ground as I fainted. I had mononucleosis and finally the decision was made to remove my tonsils.

 After having the surgery, I was in my little corner of the room. I noticed there was a man visiting his daughter in the bed next to me. She had been injured in a car accident.  As he sat vigil. I began to cough. The tickle in my throat just wouldn’t go away. I coughed so hard, that all of a sudden, it seemed a gallon of blood came pouring out of my throat. The man jumped up and ran out into the hall, “Nurse, nurse! Come quickly!”

I was rushed into emergency surgery. I remember seeing my father and mother, reunited, because of me. Hushed tones, and worried faces. As the Ether kicked in, I remember the elevator ride, with my father and mother holding my hands, and thinking, I wish it could always be this way. It seemed perfect. I never knew how serious my incident was, until years later. I was stitched up again and extended my hospital stay.How I longed for my father, and here he was, running to my rescue, once again. I didn’t know how much hurt I would carry inside, as a result of his absence.

I had an innate love for the things of God. I have a vivid memory of my father taking me to Sunday School once. I wore a frilly white lace dress, with white gloves, and I had a transparent, plastic purse, with little flowers on it. I loved to take my father’s hand and show off. He was my dad, after all. My protector. I wouldn’t grasp the serious difficulties he had, until I was much older. The reality that he couldn’t protect himself from the bondage of alcohol, and his sad life of abandonment. The demons which he battled until he died.

But, the Lord blessed me, by allowing me time to make up some of the days which were taken. I had an opportunity to live with him for a while, when I had gotten older. Just out of a terrible relationship, he begged me to come and stay with him. I did this for him. His wife didn’t like me at all, and I knew this was a huge challenge for him, to come up against her, but he did. I wanted to honor his wishes, by accepting this offer, even though it was to be a miserable experience for me.

My father would be up early in the morning, and we would sit at the table and talk, over coffee. He used to cook when he was in the Navy, so he loved to make breakfast. I had to catch him in the morning, because as day wore on, the alcohol called him. He would take his daily walk to the bar down the street, and that was when my father disappeared.

It was amazing to me, that my father would get up every morning to go to work, without any problems from a hangover. I knew way too many descriptive words, for my father’s illness, and he was considered, ‘A functioning alcoholic.’ That seems to be a misnomer. He didn’t function in any capacity, nor any other part of his life, when he was drunk. But when it came to his job, ‘he performed.’ And in the end, it seemed, even I couldn’t compete with this stronghold.

Looking back at my father’s life, helped me to understand and accept these facts. He was the only boy, with 5 sisters. My mother told me many stories about his life, and it broke my heart. He was already drinking way too much, at 13 years old. Trying to escape a mother, who was completely self-absorbed. She went from man to man, and my poor father was constantly abused. She finally placed him into the Children’s Home. This knowledge made me grieve for him. Knowing the pain that I had endured myself, in that place. But at least, I knew that my mother was ill, and the reason was not one of rejection.

Yes, I wondered what kind of mother would do this to her one and only son? I also wondered what thoughts went through my father’s mind, when he would come to visit us, his own children, in this home. He was controlled by this woman he had married, and would not offer to take us in. But to come and visit the same institution, he had been living in, many years before. This is probably one of the many reasons, which caused him to finally stand up to his wife, and he told her, I was coming to stay with him. I believe in his own way, he was trying to erase his feelings of guilt.

My mother told me that when he was old enough, he joined the Navy. Another escape from a life of sadness. I used to look at his Navy picture on my grandmother’s dresser. He looked so handsome. A head full of hair, and his white uniform. I loved that picture, and I always wanted it.

But alas, the woman who ruled his life, and the mother who had destroyed it, were both living with him, when his end had come. In many ways, I believe this, combined with the stripping away, of his job, were his demise. The guardian’s of his soul, tormented him,until he felt worthless. And the loss of his purpose just confirmed this. Nothing I could say or do, would change his mind.

I am often reminded of this love, and how important it is to all of us. The love of the father, or its absence from our lives, causes all kinds of grief. We were all created with this need for love from our parents, and the spiritual vacuum inside of us, was also created to be filled by our heavenly Father. The earthly father, is only a picture of what our heavenly Father, desires to give us. In some cases, it is far from the mark. But then, the Lord tried to point this out. Our parents are flawed human beings, in need of this same love. The Lord told us that, “if you asked your father for a fish, would he give you a stone? How much more, does your heavenly Father, who is perfect, give you what you need.”

Yes, He pointed out, that it is a natural desire for our father’s to want to protect and love their children. But the natural is imperfect. So, we must run to Him. The source of supernatural love. The only one who can give us perfect love. And, “perfect love casts out all fear.” The ones who have been lacking this love, need only to turn to Him. “He is Father, to the fatherless, and He defends the defenseless.”

I’m grateful that my earthly father, was here to give to me, the only love, he knew how to give. He pointed the way to my heavenly Father, in many things he said and did. Both spoken and unspoken. His example taught me, that although people can have serious problems, it is only in understanding their past, that we can have compassion. This is true grace.

So now I long to see my father in his new life and resurrected body.  I think of this and have his Navy picture in my mind, as I imagine us being reunited on day.  In a place where love is perfect.

A proud father