Living Life

Jesus, Me, and the Kitchen Table

My Testimony Part 2 – Losing Dad

dad and me

In my earlier blog post “My Testimony” I shared how I was adopted when I was 3 weeks old and how I came to the Lord. Now I’d like to share some more of my story. I think I basically left off which my dad passing away my last year in college. He had been having problems breathing or getting short of breath for awhile. The doctor put him on some fluid pills. I don’t know if they ever told him what was wrong or not. If they did, he did not tell me. But he had Congestive heart Failure. I remember the day I got the phone call I had returned back to my dorm room from studying for finals at the library. A message on my answering machine from dad’s ex-wife Shirley said to give her a call. I knew that it was about dad — and I knew it wasn’t going to be good news. Something just told me. So when I called her, the tone of her voice confirmed it. She came over to meet me and told me that he had died of a heart attack while playing his guitar at a birthday party. That was interesting, because one of the way he wanted to go, was playing his guitar.
The next week was crazy. I had nothing to do with planning the funeral. It was all done by his biological daughter. I had not talked to her. By time I arrived in Normangee where dad lived, his place had been cleaned out. Some of the antique speakers with beautiful cloth coverings had been torn. Someone had gone in looking for hidden money. I think the bed mattress was also torn. That was kind of strange, I thought, since had JUST died. Also during that week I had to get moved out of the dorm. I moved to Bryan with dad’s daughter and her family.

The summer turned out to be the summer from Hades. I was taking chemistry at the local junior college and it wasn’t easy, but I made a “B.” Since it is a “freshman flunk out course” at my university, I had put it off until my senior year. I am most assured I would have failed it had I taken it at SFA! But during that summer we had to do the probate of dad’s Will. Dad had always told me that when he died, there was a certificate of deposit in the lock box under the bed that would mature upon his death. At that time, the executor of the estate, Eva, would give me $1,000 a year each year for 10 years. Dad was a man of his word. One thing he could not stand was a liar. So imagine my surprise when we got to the probate and I found out that the money was not there – or supposedly it wasn’t there. And to top that off, the lawyer told me he did not represent me, that he represented the estate. So there i was. Nineteen years old, still in college, fatherless, motherless, and with a feeling that something was very wrong with how the estate was being handled.
I had no idea what to do. I did the only thing I knew… ask advice from the church ladies who were older and with whom I was very close. They advised me to get a lawyer and find out what was happening. So I agreed to go meet with the attorney they had located for me. At that meeting, he told me that he would take the case, but warned me that pursuing it would probably mean I’d be estranged from my family. Keep in mind, I had no other family. I did NOT like that idea, but I did not know what else to do. I really needed the money, although it was not that much at once. I was encouraged to go forth with it because it is what dad would want – and that he would be rolling in his grave if he knew what was happening. So I went forth with it.
I really don’t know what happened as far as what the lawyer did with the lawyer of the estate or Eva. All I know is that one day the lawyer called to tell me that he had won the case and after his fees were taken out, I was going to receive $7,000. By this time, I was back in college in Nacogdoches. I needed a car badly because it was time for me to begin my practicum hours. I needed to be able to drive to the sites to do my observations and teaching. So the settlement came at an opportune time and I was able to get my first car – a teal green Ford Escort. This car was a blessing. Dad had talked about buying me a car when I reached this point in my education. So, in a way, he did!

Within a year or so I decided what I had done was wrong and I wanted to make amends with my family. I’ve always been quick to forgive others for their wrongs. I sent a letter to my sister (dad’s daughter) asking her to forgive me, that I realized I was wrong. I’m sure whatever I said sounded very weak, even though it was most sincere. I can’t tell you in words how badly I wanted to be reunited with my family. People told me things like, “It’s their loss, not yours.” and asked me why I’d even want to be with them after the way they did me, etc. But I had read in the Bible where it was wrong to sue your neighbor. And I was truly repentant. But as my attorney had warned me, so it was I think they read my first letter, but subsequent letters and our wedding invitation were returned to me, unopened.

My sister’s daughter and I had been very close growing up. Even though I am her aunt, we were very close in age. And we were in the drill team together at school and went to church together. We played together on weekends and in the summers. I have very fond memories of playing Marco Polo and diving for pennies at the pool in the summer. However, one day I called to talk and found out that she was angry with me also. She was still going to college and living with her parents, so I thought that she basically had no choice but to see it their way. She told me I was a traitor to the family and she never wanted to speak to me again. Those words cut me to the bone and broke my heart. I guess it was then that I sort of gave up my hope of ever being reunited with them.
It is a long story which I won’t tell – but in recent times, through Facebook, the two of us have reconnected. I did not know it but she had been following my story since the car accident. She sent me pictures she had found of me and dad when I was growing up. I was o glad to have these memories. But I am delighted that she decided to friend me on FB and we can at least keep up with each other’s happenings. God is good! This is an answer to my prayer. I may never get to speak to my sister again, but that is in God’s hands. I’m also glad to be friends with my sister’s son-in-law on FB. I wonder if anyone ever mentions my name at family gatherings? I admit it is strange seeing pictures of their children and not knowing who they are really, having never met them.

The year that followed was rocky at first as I grieved for dad and the estrangement from my family. I will never forget the way that God provided “family” for me during that first year. The holidays are always hardest and i truly had nowhere to go. But my vision teacher from high school, Jeanne, invited me to come stay with them and celebrate Christmas. I took them u pin it and it was wonderful, just different. It was strange because my family was actually in the same town, Bryan. But of course I did not see them.

Things really started locking up at the start of 1998 when I got my first teaching job and met Richard. I’ll talk about the way we met in a future post. Stay turned!

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