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Friday, February 18, 2011

Flashback Friday {The day I met my dad}

I started this little blog in August 2008. Jacob was six and Brooklyn was 9-months old. There are so many moments that happened before then, so I'm going to start doing Flashback Fridays to document those special memories that happened before I had a blog. If nothing else, it will serve as my personal scrapbook for the kids to enjoy reading one day.

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My parents divorced when I was two. I lived with my mom and my older sister and I visited my dad every Tuesday night and every other weekend. My dad moved a lot and had a lot of girlfriends. It was rough.

My mom got remarried to my step-dad, Brian, when I was seven. My little sister was born a year later.

A year after that, my life dramatically changed.

I was nine years old at the time. It was summertime. July 1988. My dad came to pick me up and took me to an early Italian dinner with one of his girlfriends. I didn't want to go. After dinner, my dad had to drop me off at church since I was in the Fourth of July performance that night. On the way there, we started talking about vacations and summer plans. I told him I wanted to go on vacation with my step-dad's family later that summer instead of spending time with him.

My dad went ballistic.

He yelled. He drove super fast. He said some really mean things. And I was scared. Scared for my life. Scared for our relationship and where it might go. Scared that I had been too honest.

He pulled into the entrance of the church and told me he didn't want to see me again. As far as he was concerned, I wasn't his daughter anymore. He was done with our relationship. I barely opened the back door and put my feet on the ground before he peeled away. I heard him yell, "Have a nice life!" And the last thing I saw was the banging car door as he drove away.

That was the last time I saw my dad.

Fast forward 16 years later. It was Christmas 2003. I was 25 and Jacob was 16-months old. A week before Christmas, I found out my first husband had left me. I went to church the next Sunday. The pastor preached on forgiveness and unconditional love. During the sermon, I had this overwhelming urge to reconcile with my dad. God made it blatantly clear to me that I needed to make the first step and reconnect with him after all these years.

So, that's exactly what I did.

I called my older sister and told her the news. She invited me over to our grandma's house on New Year's Day to celebrate the day with my grandma, my dad and his girlfriend. It was the perfect day.

I showed up at Grandma's house and brought Jacob with me. And there in the driveway, I met my dad for the first time since I was nine. New Year's Day 2004. Sixteen years later. He met his 16-month-old grandson for the first time. And I reunited with my grandma too.

It was a fresh, clean slate. A new beginning for us, my dad and I.

We rekindled our relationship as best as we could. We went out to dinner. He took me to movies. We talked about girlfriends and life. He helped me get through my divorce. He helped me move as I started my new life in Tennessee. He attended our wedding. Our relationship was slowly growing and developing.

Then, on September 7, 2006, he had a sudden massive heart attack and died. Just two years after we met.

I was shocked. And heartbroken.

My dad never acknowledged the pain he caused when he dropped me off at the church that one night. He never knew how difficult all those years were without him. He didn't know that my identity and security in my adulthood would be challenged because of it. He didn't pay attention to what I looked like. And he didn't have time to discover the person I had become.

But, I chose to love him and forgive him anyway.

He was my father. My flesh and blood. And I'm thankful that God gave me this experience, as difficult as it was. I'm a better wife, a better mother, a better friend. I know exactly the kind of person I want to be in this short life I've been given. And I'm so grateful for those two precious years that I had with my dad before he passed away.

{January 2004. Jon Jon and Jacob just two weeks after they met.}

I wouldn't trade it for the world. The day I met my dad. The day I started living.

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