Boy am I glad that I got a chance to spend time talking with my dad before he passed away. I had wasted so much time being angry with him (and everybody else) that I hadn't really talked with him since my mother's death. All I wanted to remember was that he was abusive to my mother and that I had witnessed that abuse from an early age. I forgot all about how he never abused or me. I never considered the events that occurred in his life or how he handled them. I never considered that no one is perfect. So, even though our best conversations took place during the last month of his life here on earth, I just thank God for opening my heart and my mind to where I was ready to communicate with him.
You know the most amazing part is that he wasn't my biological father, but he was the only dad I'd ever known. He never mentioned to me that he wasn't my biological father and never acted like he wasn't. But when my mother told me when I was 12 yrs old that he wasn't my real father, something in me changed. I often wonder why she ever told me or why she didn't tell me sooner.
I loved my dad. He taught me an appreciation for the finer things in life. He is the one who taught me my gemstones. He would give me things like sterling silver earrings and bangles, ruby stud earrings (probably not real, but hey who knows) a black onyx ring with diamonds down the center for my 16th birthday.
He taught me how to ride a bike, an appreciation for music and art and he taught me how to be a lady. I ran into my old next door neighbor a few months ago and we laughed as he reminded me how I couldn't come off my steps until I was 14! lolol. And I couldn't even sit on nobody else's steps either. My friends loved coming over my house. When he was there he would always cook us up something - fry us some shrimp or chicken and salad. We always had salad no matter what he cooked.
The last time I called my dad, he was eating (thru a tube) and told me to call him back. I never called him back. I wanted to ask him if he remembered the time he taught me how to swim...
I was about 6 yrs old and we were at "family swim" at Awbury. My dad could swim really well and he would swim around the 9 feet with me on his back. So, after swimming with me on his back for some time, he decided that I could swim in the 9 feet all by myself. So, as we stood on the deck of the 9 feet, he said to me "Now I'm gonna throw you in the 9 feet and I want you to swim over to the 3 feet." I looked at him like he was crazy as I shook my head no and said "no". He said "yes". I said "I can't". He said "Yes you can" I said "no I can't". Next thing I knew he had picked me up and threw me in the 9 feet! So, I swam for my life. Under water, above water, doggy paddled, dodging all the other people who were in the pool. No one knew that I was swimming for my life except for me. So when I finally got to the three feet where I could stand up with my head above water, I turned to the deck to tell my dad I had made it. But guess what? Yup, he was standing right there beside me and had been right beside me the whole time! Did I really think he would throw me in and leave me all alone? lol.
I wanted to remember that with him. And I wanted to tell him that he had taught me a very important lesson...probably the most valuable lesson of all. I wanted to tell him that during the time I had ostracized myself from everyone and I was all alone trying to deal with all the obstacles that life had thrown me at one time, when I finally looked up I realized the God had been there through it all. He had never left me. And when he wasn't walking beside me, he was carrying me...Just like "Footprints in the Sand" says.
I never got a chance to share that with my dad. That would have been the first time that we'd ever talked about God. I wasn't really sure whether or not he believed in God or not and I wanted to share something with him that he could relate to.
I am most thankful to the pastor who assured me that my father accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior before he died. That was the most important thing to me and was comforted with that knowledge. Like the pastor said, "Roland Hayes may have been a great barber, a great tailor, a womanizer, alcoholic - but in the end the greatest thing he did was accept Jesus as his Saviour. And just like the thief on the cross, Jesus accepted him.