A bit of personal background about me: I am the only child of a couple that divorced when I was about three. I still remember watching Fort Bliss, TX, shrink out the back window of the packed car as my mom and I drove home to Minnesota. Following that were years of babysitters, Kraft dinner and Rice a'Roni. My mom worked 5 jobs at one point to make ends meet, I remember nights on a bar stool at the American Legion, and being babysat right next door to my grandparents house, but only being allowed there when I was sick - never for babysitting. We moved 3 or 4 times in our hometown and then my mom remarried and I got a new stepdad and 4 stepsibs. Of course there is a bunch more to this story, but that's for a different post. My dad also remarried and has a son with his 2nd wife. So I knew my dad, talked to him, but didn't really know him as my dad, then...
Last summer my dad came to visit from Pennsylvania. His parents are still alive and in poor health so a visit was in order. He also hadn't met Grace, our then 3 year old, in person or seen Micah, our then 12 year old, since he was 8. Frankly, I didn't have much hope for the visit but knew that the daily schedule for our family would have to change for about a week or so. My dad called me at work to let me know that he had made it to town, was spending the day with his parents and would see me the next day. I made it through the call then went to the restroom to cry - completely unexpected. It must have been a Thursday because we had small group that night and I was on for leading worship. I think I pretty much cried quietly, but obviously, during the whole lesson. Then was definitely not able to lead worship. Some very dear ladies went with me into another room and listened to me, hugged me, and prayed for me. My whole reaction was completely unexpected.
My dad spent about a week here and we got to have him over for dinner, do all the 4th of July festivities, and we got to spend a bunch of time just visiting. I had some pictures buried in our storage closet from before I was born that we talked about. I heard the story of he and my mom dating and getting married, his time in Vietnam, her time waiting back in the states... And I got to hear how he really loved my mom, wanted and tried to reconcile from his posts in another state. Also how he loves me. And that's when I feel like I actually met my dad.
No one told me he didn't want me or didn't love me, in fact my mom never disparaged him and he was not a deadbeat dad who avoided child support. I assumed that as a child because of the the circumstances in my life, because he wasn't there, and because I had never really gotten to know him. I can see now how he was trying to know me, as hard as that was from another state. I just couldn't see it before. I think God had to come and break my heart, my disappointed-lonely-mistrustful-little-girl heart so I could actually meet my dad.
Now my dad has stage IV cancer. He is in treatment, but I don't know how much time we have left. But I feel like God has given us a second chance and I'm not very good at it - I've only been a daughter for about a year now - but I don't want to waste the time, however much we have. When we talk on the phone now he always ends it with, "Love you, girl," and now I know he does.