I’m not sure what I want to write about my visit with my dad. I’m really tired. I should probably do this tomorrow. But I feel like it’s fresh and now is the best time to journal about it. I don’t know how much I want to share because maybe its just sacred and then again maybe I want to share every little detail because it was so good.
I’ll take you back. It’s been almost 12 years since I’ve sat down with him and had a conversation. It’s been 12 years since I’ve been in the same room as him, except during my brother’s murder trial, and my grandmothers funeral, both, as you can imagine, weren’t great venues for facilitating a reconciliation. When my brothers verdict came down, guilty on all charges, my dad did rub my back and said he loved me, which I did return the love to him, but that was that.
Why did I stop talking to him in the first place? It’s a complicated answer. One I don’t even want to get into now because I am moving on from the past, and looking forward only, moving to the future, and enjoying the present. I’ve honestly let go of the issues of my childhood. God has worked a lot on my heart preparing me for this moment, preparing me to just let go and let God. I’ve not only forgiven, I’ve let go. I’m done thinking about the junk from the past. It’s done and over with and there’s no going back to change it anyway.
So back to the visit… well real quick, let me take you back to last month.
I decided that I would listen to God and finally grow a pair and make the first move toward reconciliation. It’s not easy to reach out when its been so long. I’ve wanted to do this for a year or two but just never felt total peace, and then when I did feel some peace, I didn’t feel I had the nerve to reach out. But Christmas 2013 changed things for me. I sent a Christmas card to him with my phone number. He sent me a text. I sent him a text back. I called him the next day, Christmas day, and we talked for an hour. I cried, he cried. I apologized for the years gone by, we both vocalized things we wish we would have done differently. It was good.
So after another conversation on the phone last week, I decided to stop trying to make everything perfect for our first visit, and just get him up to see me as soon as possible – which happened to be this weekend. He drove over an hour to come visit for dinner in the dark. We greeted each other with a hug and I welcomed him into my home. He commented on how nice the house is, and was immediately greeted by curious little ones. Very shy curious little ones. It took about 30 minutes for the kids to warm up to him but once they did, you couldn’t get them to stop talking, and showing off their guinea pigs, and running around being their regular silly selves.
We sat around the table eating dinner and sharing stories. He helped my children make their plates. And I realize how much I have cost him. How much he has missed out because I was stupid and immature and didn’t know how to handle the emotions I was experiencing as a young adult when I made the huge decision to stop talking to my dad oh so long ago. Here he was helping Zane put butter on his baked potato for the first time, ever, even though Zane is 7, and it tugged at my heart. He even asked Zane first if he could help him with his plate, because this was all so new to the kids, and it was so polite of my dad, and thoughtful, but it broke my heart that he would even have to ask.
After dinner we moved to the living room where there was more guinea pig playing, and Lego sharing, and interacting with the kiddos. He even got talked into holding Ruby, one of our pigs. He was a good sport, I have to say. I grabbed a photo of him holding the pig because, well, that was such a sweet moment. After the kids got a bit too riled up, we sent them downstairs to play, while Adam, dad and I continued gabbing. We talked about everything from football to Texas to Jake to jobs to where he lives to his side of the family and on and on. He wasn’t lacking things to talk about.
We ended up visiting for two and a half hours. I think we could have gone even longer if it weren’t the kids bedtimes, and it was getting late, and he had a long drive home. As he got ready to leave, I invited him to each child’s bedroom to say goodbye to them. And as we got to Zane’s room, I had to get Zane’s attention, and let him know what was happening, that my dad was leaving, and it hit me, this awkward moment of calling him my dad, instead of saying your grandpa is leaving, hit me. They should know him as grandpa, not as my dad. They should be calling him grandpa. They should already know him. The gravity of my decision made so long ago hit me hard in the heart. And now?, well now it’s going to be up to my children what they feel comfortable calling him. I can only hope one day they feel comfortable calling him grandpa.
He said goodbye to the kids, gave me a hug, thanked me for having him up, and off he went. I feel like there’s so much more I wanted to say and yet feel like the night couldn’t have gone better if we’d tried. I’m sad for the time that we’ve lost, and for the time he has lost with my kids, but thankful that God softened my heart, revealing to me that I need to give my parents grace, because they are only human, and they make mistakes, and I make mistakes, and can only hope that when my children are adults, they will give me grace for any mistakes I make during their childhood. Amazing the perspective having your own children can give you.
I never stopped loving him or thinking about him. I’m happy we’ve reunited. And though he lives an hour away. And though we are going to end up moving 8 hours away at the end of this year. I feel like we reconnected at the right time for everyone to be ready for such a big step.
If I could do it all over again, I would have never let so much time pass. But I can’t so I have to forgive myself and move on. I thank God for grace. For the grace He has for me. For the grace I have for my dad. And for the grace my dad has for me. Without grace, where would we all be?
I’ll wrap this up with some pictures from the night.