After my father died, I found letters he’d written to me over the years and saved, like a journal, hidden in the old cabinet he used as an end table next to his recliner. I’m still processing the content of these letters. One of them is about why he didn’t come to my rescue when I wanted to come home from the college in the mountains.
This excerpt from my work in progress explains:
On my second day in Boone, before classes started, my roommate and I went to a pub not far from campus. I recognized Chris, a super brainy girl from my high school who’d already been at the college for a year. She waved to me and invited us to sit with her. My roommate saw some people she knew and went to sit with them. Chris made me feel welcome, and I started to feel comfortable with her. Maybe the beer helped. She asked me how I was doing.
“Well, I’m a little nervous,” I admitted.
“That’s normal. It’ll get better.”
“And I miss my boyfriend. I’m actually thinking of going back home.”
Chris looked thoughtful. “You know, you’ve got your whole life to go to college,” she said. “If you want to go home, it’s okay. It’s your decision.”
I was surprised by her response. I’d expected her to encourage me to stay. If this brainiac said it was okay to go home, then who was I to fight it any longer?
I called my parents and said I wanted to come home. Having just driven seven hours each way to bring me there a couple of days earlier, Dad refused to come get me. He didn’t say much, leading me to guess he was disgusted or at least disappointed.
Being stubborn, I managed to find another way home, but that’s another part of the story.
Fast forward to 43 years later when I read my Dad’s secret letters last week. One his letters revealed that the reason they didn’t come get me was because their old station wagon had a blow out on their trip home and left him “without a spare.” He wrote in Jan 2011: “Money was very short and, we had very little in the bank, and almost nothing on hand. I would have to have gotten permission from work…We also thought about what you were giving up….I have to admit my love for you was and still is a factor. After we made our decision not to come up, we went to bed, but I don’t think either one of us slept that night. The decision bothered us for years and we talked about it for even more years, even after you were married….I still felt guilty.”
I had no idea that money was a problem back then! I figured it was all about not wanting to bail me out when I should have stayed. I thought it was just because he was mad at me. I’ve carried that shame for years. And all this time, HE felt guilty for not coming to get me. I knew my parents loved me, but I didn’t know how much until I read these letters full of love.
Ive always wanted my father to be proud of me, even when I resented him. Even when I didn’t like his conservative beliefs. Even when I avoided him. I still, deep down, wanted him to be proud of me.
And what I’m finding out from his secret love letters is that he was.
Some things are worth waiting for. For a chance to win a free, signed copy of When God Says Wait, sign up for my monthly newsletter before March 21st by clicking the box on the side bar to the right, or just click here: http://eepurl.com/ch52KT