After one of the most difficult trials of my life came something amazing worthy of rejoicing.
Source: photos.com/Aleksey Ubozhenko
My oldest son died last summer. Surviving the loss of your child isn’t easy, though we are greatly comforted by God’s plan of what is to come. I tossed and turned and woke every hour the first few nights. I went for long walks by myself, just to relieve some of the stress.
But mostly, I prayed. So did many wonderful brethren, too. Soon I felt as if God had cradled me in His hand and I could sleep in peace again. Every card and hug meant so much more than I can say. “If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honoured, every part rejoices with it” (1 Corinthians 12:26, New International Version).
I write not about the suffering part, which God has miraculously healed, but about the rejoicing. I know you will rejoice with me when you hear this story.
When I was a small child, my younger sister blurted out that our daddy was not my daddy, just her daddy. A relative told her this. I was shocked. But once I knew I had another daddy, I wanted to know all about him. I pestered my mother for all of the information I could get about who my father was.
My mother gave me his name. He was a six-foot-tall blonde-haired German, she said. They were very young. Their parents had sabotaged their marriage. He joined the army, and her mother burned all his letters, save one, which my mother read to me. We treasured that letter for many years. It was the only link I had to my blood father.
My father came home on leave and saw my mother and me—her new baby, at her family’s gas station. He asked to hold me. It was too late to do anything else. My mother had already married. My father kissed my head and touched my cheek. Handing me back, he turned quickly and left before everyone could see his tears.
All through my childhood, I dreamed of my father finding me some day. He would have figuratively come in on a white horse and saved me when times were bad. I wanted to find him, but I didn’t know how to do that. I knew he might have a family now too. I wondered if I had other brothers or sisters. I knew I had an aunt and some uncles. I would have liked to have known them.
When I was baptized, most of the longing to have met my real father dissipated. I felt confident that I had a Father in heaven who was even better than a physical father. My Father could hear me at any time. He is always with me. One of these days, I thought, I would probably enjoy meeting the man who had fathered me, in God’s Kingdom. I would get to talk to him then.
Time ticked by, and I had my own family. Then the Internet made getting information a whole lot easier. I was 42 when my husband bought our first computer. Every once in a while, I’d make a small attempt to find my blood father. But it wasn’t a priority, because I had my Father in heaven.
In 2012, after my son had died, the 1940 U.S. Census was released. I’ve got this little genealogy habit. It’s like putting together an endless puzzle. And since my parents were born in the 1930s, they would be on this census! And so, on a Friday, I started dabbling around. I knew my parents lived on the same street. I quickly found my father’s family. I was sure I had the right person. In an hour and a half, I knew his family line back to 1790. It was really fantastic!
I went into the next room and told my husband the good news. I asked him if he thought I should try again to find my father. He told me to go ahead while there was still time. And of course, the Internet has now come up with even easier ways to find someone.
I typed my father’s name and state on Facebook. I came up with about seven people by his name. I looked at them carefully, and there was one person that would be about his age. So I sent that person a short message. “Looking for family. Did you know “ my mother’s name” ? Is your father…?” And then I waited.
By the time we came home from Sabbath services, seven weeks exactly after my son had died, I checked the site and had an answer! “Yes, I knew her. We both lived on Lockwood Dr. And who might you be? [Later, he told me he had already known the answer.] Here is my e-mail address. Please get in touch with me as soon as possible.” My heart was beating so fast!
I pounded out an e-mail. I told him I think he is my father. I told him that I’m 57 years old now. I have a rare blood type. Just to confirm the paternity, would he mind telling me his? I was sorry to tell him my mother died a little more than a year before. I told him a little about myself and about my family.
Immediately, I received an answer back—yes, yes, I am your father! He had my blood type! He told me his wife died earlier in the year—it was the same date as my son’s birthday, my son who died. This man not only welcomed me, he embraced me and my whole family! He had looked for my mother and me, but had not known her name change and future moves she had made. I have two younger brothers by my father. He gave me his phone number and asked me to call him as soon as I would. I had to calm down and think about this for a little while!
I finally called his number. He had that wonderful, rich Texas accent that I love and grew up around. I could tell he thought before he spoke. He called me “Ma’am” (I miss Texas). There was joy on both ends of the phone. We both cried tears of happiness! I had been different from everyone else in my family. But we have found that I am so much like this man that it borders on the ridiculous! We have laughed and talked! In fact, we have talked on the phone for an hour or two almost every day since then. My father has become one of my heroes, as all fathers should be to their children, and as our Father in heaven is to all of us.
My father does have cancer, and for a few minutes, I was sad about that. But I have every confidence in God, who has proven that we can have every confidence in Him, that He loves my father and will take care of my father too. I thank all my brethren in advance who will pray for my father’s health too.
I’ve often avoided talking about religion to others that I meet. But with holidays coming up, I thought I’d better tell my father that I don’t keep those days, so that he wouldn’t wonder why he didn’t get a card. He was overjoyed about that too! He wanted to know more and more about my beliefs. These were questions he’d had for most of his life!
And as soon as he knew about clean and unclean meats, he threw all of the unclean out of his house! As soon as he knew about pagan holidays, he removed them from his list of things to do! He began carefully observing the Sabbath from sunset to sunset. I was impressed and amazed! He wanted the booklets from UCG and has studied diligently. He watches our services through the webcast! I’m overjoyed about all of it!
The way all of these things worked out is nothing short of a miracle. My father had only been on Facebook for a few months, and he was thinking of closing his account. The timing was perfect. The encouragement my father and I have both felt is a great gift from God! It seems as if all the years have melted away. It seems as if we have always known each other. I have learned a lot more about God from getting to know my father. Families reflect a little bit about what the God family is like. It’s so wonderful to have someone who loves you so much, and you love them that much, too. God’s love for us must be so much more, and that love is so powerful! You know someone has your back. God has our backs!
Last weekend, my younger son and I got to go down to Texas and meet my father in person. We talked, we laughed and sang together. I told my husband that if you know me, you know my father because we are both just alike in personalities. I understand more about what Christ meant when he said, “He that has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Without having met him before, in my remembrance, I already knew my father. It took a short time to meet him. In a short time, we will meet our Father, though we already do know Him. We never know what joys God has in store for us that are just around the bend! Rejoice!