“What’s to become of us now?” was what my six-year-old sister asked the secretary at the courthouse. Our grandparents were coming to pick us up and they were late.
It was after five o’clock and people in the office were going home. Everyone, except for a secretary who stayed late to wait with my sister and I. She passed the time with us by braiding our hair and saying comforting words. I don’t remember her kind words, but I am sure she had a heart of gold in trying to make two wards of the state feel loved until help arrived.
We were dressed alike in brown print dresses, with Peter Pan collars, and full skirts that gathered at the waist. Looking at pictures of that day, my oxford shoes were way too big.
Our maternal grandparents were driving in a pink Rambler that our great grandmother owned. I always remember that car because you pushed buttons to change gears.
They finally arrived. The next memory I have, with the help of pictures, is my sister and I seeing and feeling snow for the first time in our lives. On the way home, we stopped and climbed up an incline by the side of the road and rolled snowballs. It would be the beginning of a happy childhood.
Then, the next memory I have, and this one didn’t need any pictures to etch in my mind, was in another courthouse. My sister and I were sitting with our grandparents across from a judge who was sitting behind a huge desk. For you see, on this day, they were adopting us. There was legal jargon being said, but at the ripe old age of five, I remember a lull at the end of the formalities and I said, “Can we call them Mom and Dad now?” The answer was yes! So that probably was the real start of my happy childhood.
For the rest of our formative years, we grew up on a cattle ranch. Our biological parents were not able to take care of us and both of them wrote letters to my sister and I, assuring us that they loved us, but supported the adoption as being best for us. I love them for that! I have those letters and read them every now and then.
Father’s Day is for all fathers. I have three types of fathers. My Heavenly Father, being first and foremost. Those who selflessly render up their own children for a better life and fathers who step up and raise children who are not their own.
Each one of my fathers sacrificed something, so that I might have a better life.
Our ‘new’ mom and dad encouraged communication with our biological parents and welcomed them into our home to visit every so often. My loyalties, however, always remained with my grandpa and grandma who sacrificed their golden years to raise us as Mom and Dad.
Thinking back to childhood and how instrumental he was in my upbringing, I remember one thing he told me. I had had a typical ‘teenager’ fight with Mom and went off in a huff up the road to a shaded area on our 400 acres. Soon, I saw my Dad’s tractor coming up the road. The tractor instinctively turned up the road to where I was. There were a million hiding places on our land, yet his tractor came to a stop about 30 yards from where I was sitting in the grass. He didn’t get off the tractor. He just sat there leaning on the steering wheel. Out of the stillness of the moment, he spoke with a stern calm, “You know, sometimes we do things that we wish we hadn’t, I think you better get on the tractor and go home now.” Without hesitation, I got up and we went home.
My Mom was always the disciplinarian and Dad supported her like a silent invested partner, so this encounter with him was rare. I could feel the soulful empathy he had for the situation, as if his own life’s journey had prepared him for such a time as this. Few words were spoken but I didn’t really need words. I needed hope and direction in my life. He gave me both. What he said started to heal my heart and understand the true meaning of being loved when we deserve it the least. Feeling like you are understood or validated is a big part of love.
By validating the ones you love, you see things from where they are. Not everyone has the ability to empathize and a lot of relationships, unfortunately, have dissolved because of it.
Ultimately, my Dad walked me down the aisle when he was 77 and by his account, it took four cows to finance my wedding. Yes, he was still farming and ranching at that age! Happy Father’s Day to a Dad who sacrificed his and mom’s retirement years to raise my sissy and me. Can you believe I married a man just like him? A man who loves God, a sense of humor, charismatic, a good provider and a great father.
Even though my start in life was rocky, God worked everything out for our good. There is a saying that goes like this: Life is like a tapestry. On the back we see all the knots and snarls, but when we turn it over and see it as it really is, we see a beautiful pattern with a golden strand of purpose running through it. (Typed on a small piece of paper found in my Mom’s Bible.)