This will be very real…
There is a perplexity of emotions involved, but heaven gained my dad on November 15, 2015.
Why am I feeling so many things?
It’s not that simple, but I want to portray a story of forgiveness and honor for dad.
The first memory I have of him was on a Father’s Day and I was about 5 or 6 maybe. I remember being scared though because I didn’t know him.
My mom admits she’s an over protective mother and with my dad’s questionable past, I spent the first years of my life not knowing my birth father because he wasn’t allowed near me.
I do remember the man my mom married after I was born, but that is a different matter,
After Father’s Day, I’d go visit him and my brothers throughout the next few years a weekend at a time, go to boy scout events, and burn insects on the sidewalk with a magnifying glass.
In some ways it was a typical split family but my mother and father were never married. The only negative memory I have of those times was being spanked, but I cannot remember what me and my brothers did that required discipline.
My dad first introduced me to church.
At the age of 8, after only knowing my dad for a few years, I called and no one answered…ever again. It was just a few days after he and my brothers were at my home with my mom asking if I wanted to come over for the weekend. But, I had a serious prior commitment as an 8 year old…a friend’s birthday.
Why didn’t he call me?
Was it because I didn’t go to his house?
Did he change his number and forget to tell me…for years?
I became really angry as I got older. My heart hardened, and to be honest, I stopped caring about his whereabouts or his wellbeing. I was hurt. I was a young man trying to become a man with a single mom doing her best to make ends meet.
I remember watching an episode of Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Will’s real dad shows up unexpected and leaves in nearly the same manner but with more broken promises, Will has an emotional breakdown and asks why doesn’t his dad want him.
My anger was pain from neglect and abandonment.
Any time my mom would mention my dad had a similar characteristic as me or said I laughed the same way as him, I would get angry and try to change the way I did what I was doing. I wanted to be nothing like the man who caused me so much heartache and so many questions. That would soon change.
As I grew older and found my faith, the bitterness became a desire to have a father. I was fortunate that men of faith came along side of me and began to mentor me, and for lack of better words, father me. Though these men did their best over the years it still did not fill the void I had in my heart and life that only my father could fill. I longed for a relationship with my Dad. I got opportunities to contact my dad but because of the pain, I decided against it because I could not see myself doing it right.
I lived a life as if my father had passed because that is how I knew to cope, but I knew I still wanted a relationship with him. During these years, I began to gain understanding and processed through forgiveness in my heart towards my father.
Through a series a life events I came to love people in the worst of situations. It was these event in combination with something I could only call a divine intervention and knowing that led to me reconnecting and fully forgiving my dad.
Over the years I tried to find my dad and his sons, my brothers, through spontaneous social media searches and Google searches but never came up with anything. Honestly, I had given up and kind of settled within myself that I would just not have a relationship ever with them. I tried but had no luck.
One night I was working on my laptop when something other worldly happened. Only way I can think to describe it was that there was a divine inspiration that occurred as if there was someone in my living room talking to me. It had my full attention as you could imagine and it said these words: “Look for your dad one more time. He does not have much longer.”
That was it.
Crazy moment was over…or so I thought.
As any sane person would do I heeded the wisdom and began looking once again for my dad. Maybe ten minutes into my search I came across a familiar name, maybe one that could be my brother. It took me a few minutes to figure out what to say.
What do you say to someone that you haven’t spoke with in such a long time and you are not sure what if they even remember you? Not to mention, you are wondering if it is even the right person to begin with. I sent my message and waited. It may have been hours but it seemed like days. Finally I heard back. It was a success! It was my brother.
Now I could be reconnected with my dad.
What do I say?
What will he say?
How do I respond?
Am I ready?
Those werevquestions in my head.
There was no anger, hurt, or pain from his absence any longer. Nothing. It was as if that crazy ouster world event days ago changed my heart. I wanted nothing more to just talk with him and let him know that I forgive him and hold nothing against him. I didn’t know how much time he had left but I wanted it to be as peaceful as possible.
That first conversation was one I will never forget. As my dad and I talked we brought each other up to speed on our lives and we both cried. Then came the moment of testing. He apologized for not being in my life all those years. I told him I forgave him.
We continued to talk off and on over the last few years.
It was a few days ago I received a call from my brother that our dad was in hospice and it was not looking too good. The doctors were giving him somewhere between two and four weeks. That same day I called my dad.
We talked for a bit. He was still standing in his faith and he said, “God heal me or take me.” I asked if I could pray for him. We both prayed for healing and restoration of health.
That was the last time I heard his voice.
A couple of days later I got another call from my brother “Wes, dad is unconscious and may not make it through the day.”
This time it was different. It took me hours to muster up the strength and the words to say. After I got my thoughts together, I called my dad and told him I loved him and that he is completely forgiven, that I hold nothing against him and I want him to be in peace.
A few hours later he passed.
If I hadn’t worked out the needed forgiveness in my heart, I would not have had these opportunities. I know it seems cliche but forgiveness is really for both parties involved. It is with great confidence I can say my dad entered into his eternal rest weightless of any possible guilt or shame from not being involved in my life. After all, I am the man I am because of him.
This is how my dad will be remembered.
My dad was a great man of faith and conviction. He was a man who served his country and defended it in a time of need in the United States Navy. My dad taught his children that no matter what, trust God above all else with everything you have. He taught me hard work is a necessity of life, that life requires discipline, and that no matter what, make sure you love.
He was a father to many, kids of his own and the kids of others. He was what a man was to be, gentle but firm.
I know this could easily be passed on as someone just coming through their daddy issues which there is a level of truth to that. With talking to hundreds upon hundreds of people over the years I have concluded that a vast majority of us have endured a wound that’s relative to my story and it is my hope that some form of wisdom is gained from it.