I still occasionally wonder what it would have been like to have my father write or call me and say, "Let's talk." Would it have been too late and could anything from our relationship have been rescued?
My dad disappeared and vanished back in 1948 when I was 18 months old leaving my mother and me to fend for ourselves. He never returned, called or wrote. I'm sharing my story as a "bucket list" type of exercise to help others who have gone through similar experiences and to help inform pastors, neighbors and siblings about the needs of families in this kind of situation.
PLEASE NOTE: The photo to the right is of my dad holding me when I was a newborn.
Why is this so important to me?
My dad's desertion left a gaping void in my life that manifested itself in many ways throughout my life. For the record, I was raised by a mom who was a wonder-woman who was totally devoted to raising me and to getting me to a productive and happy adulthood. My things to be thankful-for list is long and amazing.
But at age 65, I can still run my fingers over the scars left by my missing dad. I wasn't crippled by being fatherless, but having my father leave and never come back and then disown me after I found him left me with wounds that too few want to talk about or recognize.
Could it have been different if my dad had sucked-up his pride and took time to share himself with a blood child? Could our relationship have been reconciled? Was it too late? What was holding him back? What would have been the payback for me if he had acknowledged me and called me his "son?"
I grew-up feeling that the word father never applied to me. My dad was a no-show for most of my life. I knew that kids came from two halves and I was missing an important 50 percent. I spent much of my childhood and adult life searching for a father-figure and never found one. I had uncles who would talk politics with me at a young age. But they never asked or talked about my life, not once that I can remember.
Let me add that I am a father and that being a father has been one of the best experiences of my life. The fact that I have loving, grounded and focused kids is a miracle of the proportion of splitting the Red Sea. It's truly a God thing and a wife who was heaven-sent.
As I continue with my story, I hope that there are errant dads out there who understand the power they hold over their offspring, particularly their sons. One small step can affect multiple generations.
There's part of me that still hopes there's a letter out there to me from my deceased father where he acknowledges me as his son. It's not to be, I'm sure. But I can flip the coin over and shed some light for my son, my son-in-law and my granson. They hold power as dads and potential dads.
And when they make mistakes, there's redemption and reconciliation and getting-up.
More to come.