Reaching towards Reconciliation
Twenty-seven years ago on November 22nd, God asked me to do one of the most difficult things of my life. He asked me to call my Dad the next day for his birthday.
You see, my father and I had been estranged for most of my adult life. It’s a long, unpleasant story, but he’d not spoken to me at all for the five years prior to this date. In his last letter to me, he had disowned me. I knew if I were to call him that he’d curse me. My then-husband was the pastor of a small church. That evening I stood before the congregation and sought their support in prayer as I would endeavor to be obedient to God’s request the following day.
Monday, November 23, 1992, I put it off as long as I could. Finally, that evening, I made the call. It turned out similar to what I’d expected. “What are you calling me for?” he demanded. “I wanted to wish you a happy birthday, and tell you that I love you.” He replied with cursing.
Only this time—it must’ve been God—I didn’t feel defensive. Instead, I saw my father as a hurting man. I responded calmly, “I hope you will forgive me someday.”
“You can’t live long enough! (More cursing.)”
“I’ll pray every day that you’ll forgive me.”
“You’re praying to the wrong God. (Cursing.)” He cursed my education, my parenting, everything about my life. . . After 45 minutes, I asked to speak to my stepmother. We exchanged a few pleasantries, then ended the call.
I was drained. I didn’t know why God had asked that of me, but I knew if something were to happen to either of us, I had done all I could to reconcile.
About an hour later, the phone rang. When I answered, a voice said, “I forgive you.”
“Who is this?” I asked.
“It’s God, who do you think?” my father answered sarcastically.
“What made you change your mind?”
“Well, I realized that life is too short, and my family is too small. I’d like you to bring my granddaughters up for Christmas so that I can meet them and be a grandfather to them.”
What a miracle! But that’s not the end of the story. We were reunited on Christmas, and the day after, we went to Baltimore and celebrated with my grandparents and aunt and uncle. I have a picture of the ten of us. It would be the last time we were all together.
In less than two months, my wonderful stepmother, Bonnie, was diagnosed with cancer in the brain and spinal cord. Because my father and I had reconciled, I had the privilege of coming to WV and taking care of her for a while. She passed away on April 14, 1993, and two weeks later my husband and I separated. I was there for my father when he needed me, and he was there when I needed him.
The following year my grandfather passed away, and in the spring of 1998, my uncle suddenly died. Then, on May 21, 1998, my father was found deceased in his home. I was devastated.
My daughters and I moved here to clean the house out and sell it, but it didn’t sell. The following year, I found employment and was able to get a loan to pay off my father’s mortgage and purchase from my brother his half of the estate. Within the next two years, my grandmother and aunt passed away, too. Within seven years, all but my daughters and I were gone from that Christmas gathering.
My father didn’t know how accurate his statement was that “life is too short, and my family’s too small.”
Because I obeyed God and made that very difficult phone call, I had five wonderful years with my dad, I got to spend time with the rest of his family before they were all taken, and I have the home that I live in today. That’s my Thanksgiving story. Thank you, Heavenly Father.