February 10, 2015

Family


Families are a funny thing, often cobbled together rather than connected by blood. For most of my life, that's how it has been. A child of divorce and the mother of a child of divorce, I have both been raised by a man I called Daddy that had no biological connection to me, and watched my oldest daughter be raised by a man she calls Daddy that has no biological connection to her. We have both been lucky to be loved in a way that never made us feel like we were anything other than daughters.

My parents divorced when I was a newborn and I didn't even meet my father until I was about 8. It was at best a difficult relationship until I was 15 when it really hit the skids. I did not speak to him again until I was 39 when my mom was killed and he came to her memorial. Honestly I didn't want to talk to him then, especially then, on the day I would say good bye to my mom. But I did. In my pajamas, in the lobby restaurant of a hotel, with my girls and Sweet Man watching and supporting me. To this day I don't know where I got the guts and I still feel proud when I remember that moment. It was a moment that changed everything.

I introduced myself to this stranger and I said everything to him I had wanted to say during that almost 25 years. I shook but I was strong and confident. In that moment I let go of all the hurt, anger and feelings of rejection I had been holding on to. It didn't matter to me what happened after that. It only mattered that I had said what I had needed to say for so long. It was freeing.


Four and a half years later, I have a great relationship with my Dad. I have forgiven him. I have an adult perspective now, as well as the ability to see the whole truth of the situation. It doesn't mean that I have forgotten or that I don't still sometimes feel tentative in that relationship, but I am thankful to have this second chance and I love him with all my heart. It turns out he is as flawed as I am. Sometimes when something is broken we don't know how to fix it. Sometimes we just stumble along blindly and somehow we come out on the other end.


I just got off the phone with my dad. He's been sick and I've been worried about him. I'm sad for those lost years but thankful for the opportunity to love him now, thankful that my girls have a grandparent to love them, thankful every time he calls Emma buddy or sends Maddie money to pay for her books for college, thankful every time he calls me baby and tells me he loves me, thankful something wonderful came out of something so horrible. Most of all I'm thankful I opened my heart to forgiveness, possibilities and love. It didn't come easy but it is a gift I gave myself.

29 comments:

  1. I give you great credit for being able to forgive after all those years because I know it cannot have been an easy thing for you. My teenage daughter hasn't had any contact with her father for nearly a decade (her choice as well as his). I do not know if they will ever reconnect but, if she does choose to do so, I hope it goes as well for her as it has for you.

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  2. This is very encouraging!
    I'm meeting my mom this Friday. We haven't had a relationship for years. I'm going with my Aunt, her sister, who I love like a mother.
    Children want love from their parents, no matter how or when.

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  3. I'm so happy for you and your dad.

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  4. Such a beautiful post. As adults, we start to see things differently. It's not that we forget about past hurts and pains, but we take on a different perspective. I'm so glad that you have been able to reconnect with your dad, and in doing so, your daughters can get to have a new dimension in their growing lives. You have a wonderful strength that shines......xxxxx

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  5. Tears in my eyes . . . forgiveness is such a beautiful act and it brought you and your girls so much more.

    Have a wonderful day and I hope your father is well.

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  6. Oh Jen. I am so glad you found your father again - even though it took losing your mother to do so. Relationships take work and it is obvious you have put lots of time and energy into developing a worthwhile one with your father. I hope his illness passes and that you can spend many more years learning about each other. XOXO

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  7. Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing your heart.

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  8. What a lovely post! And what a blessing for both you and your father ... truly forgiveness is one of our greatest gifts -- both in the giving and the receiving.

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  9. I'm so happy for you. Forgiveness requires a mature heart, I think. Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

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  10. I had a similiar situation with my dad. I'm happy to say that we're close now too.

    I'm really happy for you :)

    xo

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  11. Forgiveness and honesty are difficult things, and you're right that an adult perspective gives us a more complete picture. So Bravo to you and I hope you will all be sharing many more good moments.

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  12. So happy for you and your dad! I'm sure it was a difficult beginning to your new found relationship. Hopefully you have many years together to make your bond even stronger! Having just lost my dad I know all too well those lost moments that can never be retrieved. Although I had what I consider a close relationship with my dad and always left him knowing how much I loved him, I wonder if there weren't more times I coudla..... I guess there's always going to be those moments! Enjoy your time with your Dad, I'm sure it means the world to him!

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  13. Wow! What a powerful and moving blog post. I am so glad that both of you opened your hearts and now have such a lovely relationship. God bless you!

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  14. Yes opening up to forgiveness, is so important and something i am needing to remember right now as i am going through the death of my grandparents and the difficult relationship we had with them. Thank you for sharing this and how wonderful to have your dad back in your life :)

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  15. Jen-- such a sweet post. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. My Dad died when I was 6. I never had another . If I had I think my life would have been much Improved. You were lucky twice in life. Embrace the gift of your Father because it's lost to many.

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  17. I hope you don't mind my sharing this on FB. (If you do, please let me know asap, and I'll remove it.)

    I have four stepchildren, 16-26. Their parents divorced only a couple years ago, so I know the pain is still kind of fresh. Their parents are nowhere near on the same page in the parenting book (I wonder if they were ever even using the same book!)

    Anyway, it's heartening to hear that wounds can heal!... that with time, maybe my husband will be able to be a dad to his children.. someday.

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  18. Such a great post. Thank you for sharing your heart- I know God has used it in many people's lives.

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  19. So. Good.
    You have such a gift for communicating feelings with words . . . thanks for sharing. You got me all teared up! :) How nice is it to hear about forgiveness and reconciliation- understanding and letting go . . . THIS is the good stuff!

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  20. I am so blessed to have witnessed how beautiful your life has turned out through the years, and the wonderful relationships that you have built with family and friends. The bond that you have with your dad is like no other, it's so special and it's all yours. I'm so happy that you have such a wonderful life, and that I get to call you my best friend.

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  21. Grateful with you and for you. You do your story so much justice with the brave way you share it.

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  22. This is an absolutely beautiful post. The power of forgiveness is an incredible thing. I wish you many more years with your dad and hope he is feeling better. God bless. xoxo

    ~ Wendy
    http://Crickleberrycottage.blogspot.com/

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  23. Jen, you are awesome, strong and incredible! God bless you darling! Lori

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  24. It's beautiful, there are many others in this world that need to hear your words!

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  25. Jen, this is such a lovely post. It's a lesson we all can take to heart. I'm so glad you rekindled your relationship with your dad and he's a part of your family. I hope he's doing well.
    Vickie

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  26. Your post has gone straight to my heart. I, too, am estranged (well, you aren't anymore) from my father and I know he is very ill. Your words will stay in my heart and on my mind. I might not quite be there yet, but I think you may have started a seed. I need to let go of the anger and hurt and betrayal. Thank you.

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