Thursday, February 12, 2015

Honor Your Father and Mother

A dear friend called me to let me know my dad was in the hospital and not expected to live. He had moved multiple times over the years since my emancipation. There had been no contact for many, many years. All of my siblings and I had to decide what to do at this point. My other two sisters flew up to where he was. The house he had been living in was horrible. More than a dozen dogs had been chained to different pieces of furniture, left to starve in their own fluids. Outside there were two horses who were so emaciated I think they had to be put down. The house was filthy beyond description. The humane society had to come in and put down almost every dog they found. My dad had been a neat freak, cussing me out if I left one speck of dust on the furniture I was polishing and here he was living in filth. It was obvious that the place had to be gutted.

The task fell to my two sisters to go and try and make some sense out of the filth. Digging through paperwork trying to see if there was anything worth salvaging brought to light just how deep and how far the abuse on children went. Police reports, court documents, private letters all substantiated what we all knew first hand. A company was called to come out and gut the place after the animals were removed.

The question then became where would dad be put in his final days and what was our responsibility. We were all followers of God and knew very well the commandment to honor your father and mother. What does that look like on a practical level considering the level of abuse we had suffered at his hands. The four of us wrestled with these questions.

We decided the best way to honor our father was to make sure he did not die out on the streets, homeless without a roof over his head or decent food to eat. Even though he had chained those dogs to furniture so they couldn't move we would not allow our dad to die out on the streets somewhere. So after talking with the doctors it was decided that he would be moved to another state where my little  sister lived, into hospice. Apparently he was to sick to be transported by car so we hired a private plane to come in and take him by stretcher to the new state. After he got settled we all decided we would see him one more time. So we all met in our sisters home to say our final goodbyes.

It was perhaps one of the oddest meetings I have ever been. A hospice nurse came out to talk to all of us about dads condition and the care he would need in his final days. We were all sitting in the living room. It was awkward since the nurse had no idea what kind of family she was talking to and the dynamics of the emotions surrounding our dad.

At this point in time my nieces were young teenagers or younger. They had no idea about anything that had happened before this point. All they knew is that I didn't have a relationship with my dad. So we are all sitting around the room and we each took turns coming over and sitting next to our dad essentially saying our goodbyes. When it was my turn I got up to go sit with him and was so conflicted. I wanted to offer my dad grace and forgiveness. In my mind it was not humanely possible but with God's help I knew that I could offer some sort of police branch. I was also scared to death. Coming face to face with my abuser. Even though I knew he couldn't hurt me anymore physically I will still scared.

So with fear and trembling I walk over to my dad and sit down. I turned to face him trying my hardest to be brave when he looked at me eyeball to eyeball and said, "Jill, I just want you to know that I forgive you"! WHAT? I was so stunned I thought I hadn't heard him right so I apologized and said could you say that again? "Jill, I have forgiven you" What could I have possibly done to this man as a child that would prompt him to say he forgave me? Wasn't I supposed to say that to him? How did my world just get turned upside AGAIN? It was then, that he reached into his pocket and took out an envelope and said it for a third time. "I just want you to know Jill that I forgive you" With that third and final statement of forgiveness I sat there speechless. He handed me the envelope and sat silent while I opened up this mysterious letter.

You will not believe what was in that envelope. Come back tomorrow and I will share the details. Till then, how do you honor your parents when they have not been honorable? It is a question we had to really wrestle with.

In Christ Alone,

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the ground each morning Satan says, "Oh crud, she's up".

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