I had the opportunity to tell my testimony recently. I asked God, "How do You want me to tell it?"
I meant in a short version. But He had me go to a place in my life I hadn’t told many people about and He said, "I want you to tell them about your dad, and then tell them how you found Me."
This is my testimony:
I thought about my dad and how I didn’t know him. He had been there my whole life, but I didn’t know the man.
When my mom died at age 75, my dad was 80. We brought him home to live with us. I thought this would be a time to get to know my dad. This would be my bonding time with him. He will get to know his grandchildren!
He had glaucoma, he was hard of hearing and didn’t like to wear his hearing aids. He was always quiet, but a month after moving in he had mini strokes; it affected his speech. He could not see; he couldn’t hear and now he couldn’t speak. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. That’s what he did with my dad; that’s what he did with my relationship with my dad.
My earliest memory of my dad was on a cold winter morning in Germany. My dad was stationed there for three years so they moved us there. I was too young to go to school. I remember my mom bundling me up to go outside to play with my friends Kenny and Randy. I had a hat, coat, mittens on as I walked down the four flights of stairs to join them.
Once outside I rounded the corner of the building and went to lake. Randy was standing there. I noticed he was crying. “Why are you crying?” I asked. He said Kenny had bet him he could walk on the ice on the lake. I looked out at the lake. There was a broken pieces of ice right by the tree near the bank. And a mitten on the bank.
Mom found me crying at the bottom of the stairs. I didn’t know what to do. She told me to go tell Kenny’s parents that Kenny was in the lake. I had a purpose and a mission! I ran as fast as my little legs could take me across the horse pasture (I was never allowed in there!). I got to fence on the other side and climbed up right in front of Kenny’s parent’s kitchen window. I could see them inside. I stood on the fence waving my arm and holding on with the other and yelled until they opened the window. I yelled to them, “Kenny is in the lake!” I got down and ran back across the pasture to see what else I could do. I was at the fence when I heard the siren. I looked to my left and there came around the corner and down the long drive way the ambulance. That was my dad!
I ran to meet him. In my four-year-old mind, he would stop to pick me up and we would do this thing together! Imagine my surprise when he blew right past me and kept going! I got my feelings hurt. But turned around and followed the ambulance (back then, only one person was in an ambulance).
I got to the circle of people and stopped behind my dad, who had his back to me. He was bent down over Kenny. My mom stood there looking down, next was a man that had been in Kenny’s kitchen visiting with his parents. He was shivering in the cold with a military blanket wrapped around him. I watched his hair dripping down into his face. Next to him stood Kenny’s parents. And then Randy next to me. We watched my dad, waiting. I didn’t fully understand what was going on. But I knew it was bad.
The rest are fuzzy memories; my dad taking Kenny’s body back in the ambulance; Mom taking me upstairs. I didn’t understand what happened. And no one took the time to talk with me about it. I don’t remember any other time in my life that we talked about it. Except when I was much older with my own children. I asked mom what happened with all of that. She told me that she kept in touch with Kenny’s parents. They had other children later on. (This is how I know my mom found me on the steps crying. I didn’t not remember that part at all.)
Who was this man, (my dad) who was the ambulance driver, the savior, the healer, the comforter to many other people but not to me? I didn’t know that man. This was my first encounter with death, and I had no one to explain it to me.
We moved back to Mississippi, and I started my first year of school. I was excited because I saw that my mom was excited about it. My dad was on deployment. None of us at home knew this six-month stay in Viet Nam would change all of our lives forever. It was brutal on him, to say the least, especially as a corpsman. He was a medic on the battle fields of Nam.
We had a surprise coming home to us. He was all intact. No disabilities on the outside that anyone could see. But on the inside, he was terribly wounded. He just shut down. He was with us as a family but not with any one of us. A broken man that no one could fix.
This was the hardest on my mom. She had high expectations for him when he got home. She wanted her man back but all she got was an empty shell. The crashing disappointment of this weighed heavy on this woman that had put off her career, her oil painting and her love of art and travel for so long. Her life changed and not for the better. It was worse. They struggled in their marriage for the rest of their lives, but they were catholic, so they stayed together.
My dad was not a provider, protector, source of life, laughter or love for her anymore.
I didn’t remember dad before this, so it was harder on mom and my brothers than me.
We moved to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania when I started third grade. This wasn’t a military move. In fact, my dad had to retire for this one. My mom received a phone call from her dad prior to this move. His wife was dying of cancer. He couldn’t handle the stress or the requirements of taking care of her. He called his only daughter, my mom, to help. We moved in with them. In our time at Grandfather’s house, I didn’t see my parents much nor did I ever meet or see my step-grandmother. I didn’t know my grandfather either, and barely saw him during this time.
After the step-grandma died, my grandfather sent our family out one day to do something fun. When we got home; something was wrong. My parents sent us upstairs, where my brothers and I lived. They didn’t realize we had a bird’s eye view of the back yard where the garage was and the flashing red and blue lights of the police car. We looked out at the goings on out there. I remember turning to my brothers, saying, “I bet he killed himself!”
Later we were sent to a neighbor’s house for dinner. I remember they served meatloaf with PEAS in it! I hated peas! I couldn’t believe they would do this. I did not know these people who served us dinner that night. It was all confusing and strange.
My grandfather took his life, committed suicide in his garage. And once again no one talked about it. My mom had a nervous break down afterwards. Dad just became even more quiet. They both receded from our lives. I didn’t understand.
My teen years were just as confusing. I understood that I needed love; but looked for it in all the wrong places. This was missing in my life, along with communication, and parental guidance. My teachers were the movies, TV shows, magazines, and music. They taught me all I wanted to know about love and how to find it! I just knew that someday I would meet this legendary man of my dreams; he would meet all my expectations and he would love me unconditionally.
How many of you know that didn’t happen?
My life was fraught with disappointments, tears and heartaches! I thought I had to be a great disco dancer or super model to get that man! I didn't know how to do either one of these things well enough to get noticed by "him."
My older brothers helped me by supplying me with alcohol to deaden my pains. It was an escape from my reality of not being loved or cared about.
I started my career as a hairstylist and did well in business, but I still knew nothing about love.
I was searching for something. I saw the Catholic Religion did not and was not working for my parents. I wanted to get as far away from it as possible. I found the New Age. I actually went to a new age church for 7 years! I wandered into astrology a long time before this. I became fascinated by yoga, kundalini, chakras, crystals, meditations and the list went on. I thought I was doing well!
I had spent at least a decade looking for “my husband.” I had meditated on it. Talked to the morning stars every morning about bringing the right man for me. At 30 years old, I felt like a failure.
One Thursday night I broke up with a neanderthal of a guy. I went home sober and in a right frame of mind, got down on my knees and prayed to a God that I knew was there. I knew of God; I just didn’t have a relationship with Him. I knew He could help me. I promised to give over this search for a man to Him. I told Him I would have blinders on and not even look at guys. It was His job! And He had to make it so obvious, like the guy would have to be so persistent, that that would be the thing that took down the blinders. He would have to pursue me!
The next day I met my husband-to-be. I didn't know it at the time. Blinders were on!
He had to pursue me. I had made a commitment to God, and I wasn’t’ going to be persuaded otherwise. After every phone call I received from this guy, I would pray, “God, take him away if he is not the right one!”
Well, Zack won my heart! After many months of convincing me, he wasn’t going anywhere, we decided to start dating.
To be continued… next week!