And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Free Fallin

Some stories are really hard to tell. Some stories feel like they should be tucked away forever, hidden like a dark secret. The thing is when you love Jesus sometimes He prompts you to tell the really hard stories because they can help others. So here is my hard story........

It's Father's Day weekend. This is my daddy:

It's okay to be jealous of his long hair and stunner shades.

My daddy wasn't perfect but he loved me. He didn't always hold a steady job and he wasn't a great husband to my mom but he loved me. He was very funny, he could play the guitar, he could grow anything, and he liked Tom Petty & Kid Rock. He had a Ringo Starr haircut forever, he had a big ol' van at one time and a jeep at another time. When he worked he was a maintenance man and he was good at it, he just wasn't great at showing up every day. He liked to fish and ride boats on the river and he was the kind of guy that could make anyone like him. 

He had a whole host of pros and cons just like we all do. He had one big con though. One that contributed to most of the small cons. My daddy was an alcoholic. He had a classic addictive issue. He tried to stop many times and a few times he was successful for a little while. I begged him to quit. I begged him to at least quit driving while he was drinking. When I was 13 I told him in tears that he was going to kill someone or himself if he didn't stop drinking and driving. He got several DUIs over the years but they never slowed him down long.

I grew up and got married and was able to make the choice to stay away from him when his drinking was really bad. It was more than a little embarrassing when he had to spend time in jail because of his habits. I loved him though. He was my daddy no matter what. I prayed for him all the time and I tried to enjoy his sober, happy times as much as I could. When my kids were born he didn't get to see them much. By then he was living a few hours away from me and we didn't visit often. He was faithful about sending them gifts or money and I sent him pictures whenever I could. We went for a rare visit before Thanksgiving a few years ago. Honestly it wasn't a picture perfect visit but he did get to play with the kids and we ate a holiday meal together.

3 days later. 3 days after we came home. A week before Thanksgiving. He did it again. He was drinking and driving. We don't really know the details but he was less than a mile from his house when he flipped his truck. He wasn't wearing a seat belt (he never did). He was ejected from his truck as it rolled. He was life flighted to an exceptional medical center nearby. It was over 12 hours before I knew about the accident then the hospital wouldn't give me any information on the phone. My sweet mama (who had been divorced from him for a long, long time) drove me the 2 hours to the medical center. 

To be honest I couldn't believe he survived the crash. He had injuries from head to toe. He was in a coma and his whole body was so swollen that he was almost unrecognizable. His body was so battered that for over a week the surgeons couldn't decide where to begin. His spinal injuries kept them from doing anything for several weeks. Finally they did do a spinal surgery even though the spinal surgeon didn't want to because of all the injuries to my dad's face. 

I am a stay at home mom. I was a stay at home mom then. I tried to divide my time between my kids and visits to my dad but there was always guilt. Guilt that I wasn't with him every moment. Guilt that I wasn't with my kids when I should have been. I was a basket case. I wasn't prepared to deal with everything. I am not naturally inclined to ask for help and so I didn't even when I desperately need to. My mom jumped in and helped without me asking. She was my "taxi" to an from the medical center pretty much every single time. I could never thank her enough for all the support she gave me. 

My dad eventually came out of his coma after over 30 days. He came out of the coma but MY DAD never really came back. He had a trach and couldn't talk even if he wanted to. He was usually out of it though. A few times I felt like he really recognized me. He seemed to respond when I talked about my kids and when I prayed. He "survived" for over 6 months. It was such a dark 6 months. He was in excruciating pain. He couldn't talk, he couldn't eat, he couldn't move. He lost so much weight and had all those broken bones in his face and his head was shaved and he was  almost unrecognizable. 

During those 6 months I prayed. I prayed for God's purpose in such a tragedy to be revealed. It took a little while but eventually I felt like God revealed His purpose to me. My dad never would've stopped drinking on his own. He was addicted beyond control. He had been drinking for over 40 years. My dad never really turned to God and relied on Him. He believed in God and when he had things he thought warranted prayer he would call and ask me to pray. He had read most if not all of the Bible. All that but he had not ever turned himself over to God before his accident. After the accident though he had over 6 months that he was sober. He couldn't drink. He may not have been cognizant the whole time but I believe God gave him those 6 months as an opportunity to turn to Him. Now I don't have a specific Bible verse I can point to but it is what I have peace with.

Now why did I share this story? Not for pity certainly. If you are a drinker I hope this story will make you think twice about drinking, especially drinking and driving. You are not invincible. If you have a family member that has died in a similar manner you aren't alone. If you are praying for someone with an addiction problem, keep praying! God will hear your prayers. If you have an amazing Dad that is still alive, give him props this weekend. Hug him tight. Thank him for his contribution to your life and let him know how much you love him.

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