I have been thinking about Father’s Day which is June 15 this year. I do not know what it is like to know the love of a father, to use the word dad/daddy. Mother said when I started talking I used to call my dad, “Mine daddy.” My parents divorced when I was a toddler. I never saw mine daddy anymore after that. We grew up not knowing if he was living or dead. I have no childhood memories of my dad. I had never met or knew any of his people.
I could never understand how a parent could just forget they ever had children, no concern if they had food, clothing, education. I used to tell myself that I looked like my mother as I did not want to look like my father. After my brother graduated from high school he was determined he was going to find our dad. He was a good detective. My brother walked into his father’s business introducing himself to which his father replied, “Oh, you’re my brother’s son?” My brother answered, “No, your son.” He knew he was his son as he looked so much like him. He gave him my address and phone number but he never contacted me.
As a young adult when saying my private prayers, I would begin with, “My Heavenly Father,” and sometimes I would think of my earthly father wondering what he was like and where he was. Then I would continue my prayer saying, my Heavenly Father loves me more than ALL the earthly fathers in this universe. This thought always brought comfort and peace.
One day while my daughter was getting ready to be married, she was filling out wedding invitations. She came to me saying, “Mother, do you have your father’s address? I think I would like to send him an invitation.” I couldn’t believe what I was hearing as we never talked about this man. I said, “No, I do not but I will call my brother to see if he has his address.” I called my brother and he said, “Sis, this is interesting. He is supposed to travel here next month.” Time passed and I forgot about the incident.
One Saturday after shopping as I entered the front door one of my kids said, “Mom, your brother called and asked for you to return his call.” I immediately called asking, “What’s up?” He said, “Richard, our dad is here.” He put him on the phone. I had no idea what to say to this man as I had not seen or talked with him since that little toddler. I said, “Hi there, I don’t really know what to say.” He said, “I don’t either, I’m an old man now (64), and bald.” He had traveled from Arizona to Northern Kentucky and was on his way the next day (Sunday) to visit his brother in Indiana and then Monday go back home to Arizona. I was living in Maryland which was about an eight-hour drive to where he was at my brother’s. He didn’t say since we’re this close is there some way we could meet? I would so like to see you. I swallowed my pride and said, “If you will stay over I will talk to my husband and see if it is okay to come to see you.” “Yes,” he said, “that would be fine.” To make a long story short, as I stood face to face with this man, I could hardly believe I was actually seeing my father after all these years. After a brief introduction and small talk I started asking about family history, he didn’t tell me much as I jotted down what he said.
My dad was drafted into the Navy before he and mother divorced. While he was away mother purchased a little Pocket Hymnal for Service Men. She wrote on the front, (as you can see) and sent the little Hymnal to “Mine Daddy.” I had no idea this existed until after meeting my dad. One day it arrived in the mail saying, “I carried this three fourths the way around the world with me.” He said he wanted it back but later another letter arrived telling me I could keep it. He never talked to me about his stint in the Navy and I didn’t think to ask until after he was gone. I did order his military record.
He asked about my daughter’s upcoming wedding asking if he could attend the wedding but that he would need to call his wife in Arizona for permission. So, my dad traveled to Maryland with me and my daughter Rebecca. He said he decided to forget he ever had three little kids. He asked me to forgive him. I met him a few more times after that. He would send me Christmas cards, a birthday card and one year a planter for Mother’s Day. It was difficult trying to find greeting cards appropriate for him as they all spoke of the great dad he had been in my life, etc.
In 1993 he had a stroke and 1995 he passed away.