Last week I lost my biological father after a long stretch of poor health. He was the man who was the catalyst of my creation. The man I called dad. The man who left my mom when I was a baby. The man responsible for the addition of step and half siblings and step moms into my life.
In a menagerie of family extensions I learned to weave my way through all of the varied relationships that graced my life from a very young age. Christmas Eve with mom and Christmas Day with dad was natural. Family celebrations like graduations or weddings were pleasant with both mom and dad and their respective spouses and children present. There was no drama or anger or angst over both being present in the same room or the same house at the same time. We were all a family unit and that’s just the way it was.
As I sit here surprisingly peaceful, I reflect on those growing up years and am grateful for a mom who didn’t cause dissension between her children and their father. I think of what I could have missed out on had she done that. Those Sunday afternoon visits that were all too infrequent. Those summer visits at dad’s where I experienced and embraced my new siblings and step-mom. Those Christmas Days at Grandpa Floyd and Grandma Bert’s farm house where all 14 kids shared in a gift exchange and blended together like real siblings.
My dad’s choices created a new, beautiful world really. I wouldn’t give up one step brother or step sister. I wouldn’t be complete without my two half brothers or half sister. I wouldn’t have the joys of having three moms.
I think sometimes we look at unfortunate circumstances or changes beyond our control as dark and tragic. We put blinders on in the midst of our grief. We choose to only see it from one angle. If we look a little deeper, however, there’s always something within any situation to be thankful for. If not for any other reason than to retain peace in our souls, we need to look at change and grief with open minds. The opposite is torment and unending questions that keep us in chains.
When I totally forgave my dad for changing my entire world and redirecting the course of my life after leaving my mom, I was able to release those chains and a whole new world opened up to me. What I found in return, was a dad who made choices based on the foundation he grew up with and who he had chosen to be. God allowed him to be my father and who was I to judge him?
Today I’m 100% grateful for God’s grace in the relationship between my dad and I. Without that grace I wouldn’t have forgiven and allowed my dad, who I loved dearly, to be a part of my life. I’m grateful that God showed me my imperfections, which opened my eyes and my heart to forgiveness.
I will miss his love of country music and all things John Wayne. I will miss his joy of westerns and the Grand Ole Opry. I will miss his guitar playing and singing. I will miss his stories of his truck driving days. I will miss his acceptance of me and all of my faults. I will miss my dad.
Rest in Peace Don Williams – Jan 25, 1931 – May 2, 2017.