I have heard it said that behind every good man, there is a good woman. If there is any good in me, it first came to me from the Lord through my mother. The Golden Rule was the standard she lived by. Although I was privileged to have my mother for only 14 years, she laid the foundation of love that became the pillar of stability I cling to even today. My whole world revolved around her, and when the horrible day came that took my mother away, I was devastated to the point of despair.
The only good I can remember about my father was that once he bought me a Moon Pie and a Dr. Pepper and took me swimming. Mostly, I remember him as a mean man – very abusive to my mother, my older brother, and me. Then came the darkest day I had ever known in my short 14 years – May 2, 1973. Early that morning, in one of his terrible rages, my father took a baseball bat and in a scene too horrible to describe used it to bludgeon my mother to death. He attached all five of us children as well. My head was split open and gushing blood, while my father ran me down the stairs are trapped me in the kitchen corner. He tried to beat my head even more, but I threw up my arms to protect myself. My other brother and I escaped to a neighbor’s house, bruised and bleeding. My only sister who was one year younger, also escaped, screaming and begging someone to help our mother. But my two younger brothers didn’t fare even that well. They had to be admitted to the hospital; one in serious condition and one in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit.
My grandparents came and took me home with them and adopted me. I was falling apart emotionally; I really didn’t think I would be able to maintain my sanity. But God’s mercy reached me. God opened His love to me and I responded. When I was 16, I prayed that the Lord would let me live to be able to tell my dad that I forgave him and really mean it. As time went by, I grew up, married, and had children of my own. For awhile, I forgot about that specific prayer.
Several years ago, I dreamed I went to see my dad. I was upset with God and questioned Him about having a dream like this after all these years. Later in the day while I was at work, I began to see God’s hand in it. As I thought about the dream, I felt a love for my father for the first time since I was a child. But I reasoned that seeing my father again would be too painful, and another three years passed. I thought it would be easier to just forget the whole idea than to face my dad and relive the horrible past. Then, one morning a few years later, after another of the recurring dreams about going to see my dad, I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t forgive my dad, then God could not forgive me. These dreams were causing me to deal with the issue of forgiveness concerning my dad. I had to answer the question: “Am I going to let something that robbed my childhood from me ruin my future also?” I said to myself, NO WAY! I immediately wrote a letter to my dad. By this time, the Lord had set my heart on seeing my dad. My dad’s response to the letter was favorable – he wanted to see me too.
On May 4th, 1996, 23 years and two days after my mother’s death, I flew to Lansing, Michigan to see my father in prison. I knew that I wasn’t that 14-year-old boy looking at my 36-year-old Dad. Instead, I was that 37-year-old man getting ready to see my gray-haired, nearly 60-year-old Dad. When my dad came into the room at the prison, walking on a cane, the guard pointed his finger at me so my dad would know me. I stood in respect. As he came to me, I put out my arms to welcome him and let him know I loved him and forgave him. I knew that according to the Scripture, love is stronger than death. For awhile, it was as if time stood still.
When I got back home, I wondered what else I could do for my father to show him that I loved him. My brother and I went to the funeral home and made pre-arrangements for my father so that he could come back home to Tennessee when he died. I also planned to speak a eulogy over him when that time came. My brother thought that it would be good if Dad could see it before he died. I sent it to my dad. He wrote back with one of his last requests – it was for him and all his children to enter the house of God again after being in prison for almost 30 years. On Wednesday, August 13th, 2003, my father went to be with the Lord, and together his children once again entered the house of God with him.
I want to offer my story of forgiveness to you so that you will consider sharing it with someone else. If you or someone you know is having a hard time dealing with forgiveness, I invite you to read my story. Today at 55 years of age, I am happily married and have two daughters and six grandchildren. I am so thankful to God that these children are in my life, and if God wills it, I would love to live to see my great-grandchildren. I want to leave a legacy of love to them and to all those with whom I come in contact.
I have spoken to numerous audiences and would love to share my story with you. My book, Anchor in the Past: A chart for future, may be purchased for only $8.99 (US) plus $5.99 (US) shipping and handling. You may purchase it by mailing your payment to: