This is one of my favorite photos of myself and my dad, Jerry. I have been wrestling with how to share about our relationship as father and daughter in an honest and grace-filled way. Family secrets, dark and intimidating, trap families in prisons that seem inescapable. Our secret was his alcoholism.
His choice to refuse help for the alcoholism, plus his infidelity, ended the thirty- four year marriage to my mother. Twenty-four years ago their divorce signaled my new responsibility, as an only child, to be “on call” for all the medical emergencies and chaos created by his drinking.
Sixteen years ago he quit drinking cold turkey. That created a medical situation, doctors telling me he would need nursing home care for the remainder of his life. Only by God’s grace did he recover enough to live in his own apartment and begin a new life.
Three years ago he suffered an unexpected brain bleed, the second in his life. He was airlifted to a larger hospital a hundred miles away where he lay in a coma for a month. I lived in his hospital room by day and slept at a friend’s house a few blocks away at night. Miraculously, he is one of the twenty percent who survive that type of brain bleed.
After two months in a rehab facility I brought him back home to his little apartment. Amazing Grace…
Since that time, I deliver meals to him twice a day, set up his meds, drive him to appointments and pay his bills. He is able to keep his apartment clean, do his laundry and carry on a fairly normal life. I have two God-sent respite caregivers who love him and care for him when I need a break or I’m out of town to see my children and grandchildren.
The two brain bleeds left him with a condition called aphasia. Communication is difficult…some days are better than others. In spite of that, his most endearing characteristic is his simple child-like enjoyment of life.
He is outside, before sunrise, taking pictures of the moon with his garage sale film camera.
He is fascinated by the jet contrails in the summer sky and ponders where he thinks they are traveling to. In the summer he edges the lawn in front of his apartment. In winter, when it snows, he scoops a path from his front door to where his caregivers and I park. He has a warm charismatic smile and laugh that instantly draws people in. He loves people and they love him.
This is the love letter from my adoptive Father. I’d like to introduce you to Him. These are some of my favorite notes He’s written to me..He whispers in Psalm 139 He knew me and saw me in my mother’s womb, knitted me together and formed my inward parts. In Romans 8, He declares I am free to cry out to Him as Abba! Daddy! Papa! because I have chosen to be a follower of Jesus, His Son. Through the words He gave the Prophet Isaiah, He promises He will never forget me because I am engraved on the palms of His hands. This Father, the God- of- the- Angel -Armies, graces me with the strength, compassion, patience, love and forgiveness to care for the earthly father I am named for. I am a blessed girl. I have two dads who love me!