I'm thinking about my fathers tonight.
I had two. There was the father whose DNA I carry--the one who married my mother. And then there is my father--the one who raised me, the husband of the great aunt that raised me from the time that I was ten months old until I walked out in to the world as an adult to have my own family.
My bio father is James Hawthorne. It's funny, my family always called him by both those names, James Hawthorne. It was never just James. I can't get those same people to call me Claudia Mair, but that's another story. So I heard lots of James Hawthorne stories growing up--we were a real story telling lot, but none of the James Hawthorne stories were good.
Someone told me a story about my father hijacking a Sears truck and selling the booty. I thought the story of him pretending to be a professor and teaching art at Temple Unversity until they found out he wasn't who he said he was is hilarious. I heard stories of him being in and out of jail. I must admit, he was a bit of a scoundrel. But we all have our "stuff", don't we? I think a lot of his failures were driven by his heroin addiction. Heroin was the big drug of the seventies, like crack and meth are the big drugs today. He was an alcholic--a legacy that would haunt most of his children in one way or another. I have no memory of seeing him in my childhood when he wasn't drunk, except for once. I had a rare visit to my bio mother's house when I was 13. It was the first time I'd stayed over. In fact, I spent about a week there. Let's just say the great aunt had a hard time letting me go. During this visit my sister took me to my paternal grandmother's house and he was there. He looked at me, nodded a greeting, and turned to watch television. He didn't recognize me.
And then there is my uncle father. He was a big,loud, manly man, like the Marlboro man, only he was a black construction worker. Oh, it was so sad to watch him waste away to 90 lbs when he had cancer. Lord, have mercy. He too, was an alcoholic, but the kind that worked hard, provided for his family, and pretty much stayed out of jail. He use to let me schlep around with him. I always talked him buying me toys at the grocery store. Or at least I'd get something from the bubble gum machines. He worked early in the morning, so he went to bed early, but that never stopped me from waking him up for whatever I wanted to say to him. I probably woke my father up about 12 times a night. Mostly because my brother Michael was tormenting me, but sometimes I'd be reading and got bright ideas. Like the time I decided I wanted a cat.
We were dog people. Never had a cat, but one night I asked Daddy for one. I completely forgot about it. I forgot most of what seemed so urgent that I had to wake him up. But he was my hero. He never forgot. One day I went into the basement and a cat greeted me. Scared the dickens out of me since I'd never seen a cat down there before and nobody bothered to tell me about him. I took 10 steps backward because that's what I heard you should do when you see a black cat. He wasn't black, but I did it anyway, just in case you needed to take ten step backward upon viewing all felines.
My Daddy (uncle) died when I was 10, only a two months after my beloved great-grandmother Ma Brown, whose name continues in my books, died. Poor Mama. Can you imagine burying your husband eight weeks after burying your mother. I miss all of them, because all three are with Jesus now.
My bio father still lives. He calls me sometimes, and he's sober--or he was the last time we spoke. I love him. He's mellowed out in his old age, and he's very sweet. He never fails to tell me how sorry he was he wasn't there for my childhood, and I forgive him. After all I'm forgiven much. I like having him in my life. He makes me laugh, calls me his baby, and he doesn't mind that I'm Eastern Orthodox.
A father that lavished love upon me, and a drunken absent father. A father who died when I was too young, and a father who might as well had been dead for his influence. It's a hard pill to swallow.
They say your relationship with your earthly father colors how you see the Father God. I think that's true. Most of my life I haven't really trusted the Father God. Maybe I thought He was mostly absent. Jesus was different. Jesus was much more approachable. It's like Jesus was Somebody who really loved me, and kept the big God from killing me. Sounds strange, but all those Charleton Heston God killing people with plague images must have gotten to me.
There are a few things I need from God. I need Him to be my Daddy. Something is going on with my housing situation. I may be forced to move. Or forced to rely on God to provide in a whole new way. I don't have a regular income. Money comes in burst--sometime nice, big bursts, and then it's gone. And often when money is thin, that's when disaster strikes. My car is finished, too. The engine fell out. Yeah, I know that sounds crazy, but the truth is, the engine mounts collapsed and the engine fell out, and it can't be repaired. That's completely absurd, isn't it? It actually made me laugh. The car ran pretty good and we'd just put a new, and very expensive transmission in it and then the engine fell out. I'm gonna have to put that in a book.
So, money is thin, and we may have to move, and we have no car and a place to live and a car are needful things. That leaves me with this thing of trusting God. I have to trust him. I can't connive, or manipulate. I have to go to Him honestly and just like a child, in the same way I asked my Daddy for a cat, I have to ask Daddy God for a car and a place to live. And I have to not think of these coming from anybody but God. I'm not asking anyone else to help us. No friend. No family. I'm simply asking my Father God.
You know what? He'll give me that. I don't think it's too hard for Him. Nor do I think he wants to punish me, though I completely deserve His holy wrath. But I think God loves me. I think He wants to give me more than I'm capable of even taking. That's what Theresa of Avila said, that God wants to give, give, give, if only there were takers.
I trust Him.
And God won't die. He won't disappear leaving me to navigate life with no guidance that every girl needs from a good man. God won't get drunk. He won't forget to call. He won't make promises He's incapable of keeping.
He is a different Father. He is the loving God kind.
And I take great comfort in that.
He'll take care of YOU, too.
Hey, if you remember, pray for us, okay?
"What I'm trying to do here is get you to relax to not preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God's giving. People who know God and the way He works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how He works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday needs will be met. Give your attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes." Matthe." 6:31-34 The Message