Honor Thy Father

If you read last week’s blog, 19, Knocked up & No Good, you got a snapshot of what life was like at home for me with my verbally and emotionally abusive dad.  I wrote last week's blog as a stand-alone blog about ministering to post-abortive women but…  As I read it and reread it, what stood out to me most was my dad.  My father was so much more than the snapshot I have given you.  Even though our history was tainted by the ugliness of abuse, he and I are so much the same.  We both wanted to be good but didn't know how.  We both desired acceptance, but it had always been just out of reach.   After he died and I healed from the hurt, which you can read about here. The Lord opened my eyes to a whole other side of who my father was.  He had his own story of abuse.
I would love to tell you that my dad and I found healing before he died, but we didn’t.  Our last interaction was full of hurt, anger, and self-righteousness.
Let me show you a different side of the man who was my father. He was born in 1934 in the middle of the Great Depression.  He had to go to work to help support the family so he did not graduate high school. Though he did not finish high school, my dad had a fascinating brain.  He was very smart in some areas but lacked common sense in others.  He wasn’t the typical “book smart” guy though, he had street sense as well.  My dad also had vision well beyond his time.

A boy broken by abuse and death:
He came from horrific abuse.  He was abused in every way we can imagine.  My grandfather was a mean man.  Though my grandmother was the sweetest woman to ever walk the Earth, at that time, there was no way to protect herself or her children from my grandfather.  As if this wasn't enough to break anyone's spirit, the death of my father's twin brother was an event that my father would never recover from.
The boys around 3yrs old
Robert & Richard, brothers, best friends, and partners in adventure.  To say they were a handful would be quite the understatement. My guess was they fought hard, but they loved each other deeply.  The picture in my head of them is doing their chores as fast as they could in order to get out and discover the adventures that lived in the hearts.  I don’t know that is what happened, but that is what I imagine.  I picture them running through the woods pretending to be the people little boys pretend to be.  What I do know though is that they accidentally killed the dog and set my aunt's crib on fire while she was still in it.  She lived, but not without the scars to prove it.
The boys were playing ball one day and the ball went on the roof, it was a toss-up to see who would go get it, Richie lost.  He went to get the ball and fell off the roof, he died in my father's arms.  That was the most defining moment in my dad's life.  A heart full of love and trust for his closest companion; shattered in a moment's time.  His life forever altered.
He once told me that he lived in such a big way because he had two lives to live in one lifetime.  He not only had to live his own life but he needed to live enough for Richie too.

A Man trying to be enough:
My father walked around like a peacock with his feathers on display for others to marvel at and most people did, at least at first glance.  My father had a way about him, he was charismatic and charming, but he was a tough dude as well. He did things that other people dare not even try.  My dad knew how to walk into a room own it.  That initial reaction of awe from people can be a bit addicting to a person who thinks they are not enough. They are constantly seeking the feeling they get from the "newness" of people being thrilled by them. That feeling fades though and they don't know what to do when it is perceived to be gone.  Dad did not know how to settle into relationships that moved past the excitement of awe.  Though he and my mom remained married until his death, he was always seeking the thrill of "awe".  That didn't necessarily mean he sought the attention of women, but he sought attention in other areas.  Not an uncommon thought of people today and the relationship struggles they have.

A Savior Complex:
On some level, I  believe that my dad thought if he did enough good, it would be enough to absolve him of all he had done wrong.  With this mindset and his ability to do things other people would not even try, my father did amazing things for people.  He fed the hungry, gave to the poor, rescued those in trouble.  Even me! Even though I took the brunt of his abuse, if I were in trouble outside of the house and needed to be "saved", he was coming!  I think that the other aspect of this was if he could rescue the people around him, in his mind, it would make up for not being able to save his brother.

A man who believed in God:
My father often talked about God.  My parents lived behind a little white church for a few years and he often said: "I'll make it to that church someday."  It was always "someday", I can't help to wonder if he was waiting until he felt worthy before he walked through the doors of a church.  Little did he know, none of us are worthy but Christ died for us just the same.
My father wasn't a bad man, he was just different, sometimes that was amazing and sometimes that was less than pleasant.  While there needed to be strict boundaries with my dad and I didn't always handle things well, I loved him as any daughter loves her dad. In the end, I am proud to call him dad, though I am sure he wasn't aware of that.  I am thankful to the Lord for his hand in this thing with my dad so that the last words we spoke are not what resonates with me today.  In the next article, you will read about forgiveness and a deeper love for my father than I had ever thought possible.

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