Sunday, September 10, 2006

Thinking About Fathers

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


R.G. said...

Beautiful post, Mair. So much here for me to relate to. I know all about the sporadic income... bills not paid, cars falling apart. Yep. We do have to trust Father God to provide, and remember, He'll do it His way and it darn well might surprise us.

I can so relate to your Daddy stories, too. I have a bio-dad. He didn't raise me but sends me a birthday card every year and thats pretty much the extent of the relationship. I have a step-dad who raised me and taught me the meaning of evil. So I never did have an earthly Daddy to call my own. Somehow, though, I've simply co-opted God and sort of look upon Him as my Daddy figure.

The other thing I've done is marry a wonderful man who is the best Daddy in the world to our two daughters. Somehow, this makes up for my own daddy-lack. I watch them together and it fills places in me that have been empty all my life. God is so good that way. He knows how to heal.

God bless, Mair. I'll pray for your provision, and I'll trust that God will indeed take care of you!

relevantgirl said...

Such a touching post.

I had three dads, one who died when I was ten (bio), a scoundrel one during my kindergarten hell year, and a third one who later became a Christian. It's the third I relate to the best. And he loves me. It's made all the difference in my life to have him re-contact me after 25 years of absence.

But, yeah, it's Jesus who really gets me through each day. Someday, if we have a chance, I'll share with you a little vision Jesus gave me. It broke my heart, made me want to love Him more.

Angie Poole said...


slb said...

daughters and absentee fathers: this is a complex and weighty paradigm.

i know things are going to be fine for you and your family, mair. God takes pleasure in cradling you all in His massive, mighty hand and there you'll all stay until you're on the other side of this challenge.

continue to take (and keep) heart.

Chris said...

Praying for you, Mair.

Joni said...

I can relate to the financial stuff, for sure, Mair. Praying for another one of His great loving-Father provisions for you.

Isn't it great that no matter how men may disappoint or fail us, our Heavenly Father is always there. How wonderful to have our Abba Father.

Hugs from Ohio...

Sigrun said...

Very profound and poignant. And you're right, we do model God the Father after our own. That was quite a revelation to me too when I first heard that. I was the one my father punished the most and that was what I expected from God: punishment for the wrong things I did. When I kicked my brother, I sprained my toe so I never kicked anybody again. That type of thing.

But I knew he had fought hard to come back to my mother and me during the last years of WW II. He ran from Soviet firing squads twice and because he was a good long-distance runner he made it through Romania back to Germany.

I have only had the one Daddy and except for the 2 spankings that I can remember and some arguments that we had, he was a good Christian father though I always felt I should do better at school even though I did quite well.

Two things brought us closer: I sometimes had to ask him about Math homework that I didn't quite understand when I was in high school. And when he got 2 tickets for a Canadian Football League game from a neighbor, my mother didn't want to go. She preferred to stay home with the younger children. So as the oldest, he asked me to go with him. I wasn't interested in football but decided to go anyway and on that day, we discovered a mutual interest in the sport bolstered, I suppose, by the fact that our Winnipeg team won the Grey Cup that year. And that was before there ever was a Super Bowl. Two other interests we had in common: reading and travelling.

In character I'm a lot more like him than I am like my mother. He'd speak only if he had something to say while my mother seemed to "think" out loud. Yet she taught me a lot about God and living the Christian life. My father just did it, though he was definitely not perfect. He's been gone for more than 23 years now and my mother died just over 3 years ago: she had Alzheimer's. And I miss not having them here though they both suffered a lot and for them it was better to go ahead to heaven.

My early years before we came to Canada were very tough and would have been worse if a young couple from Ann Arbor in Michigan hadn't sent our family CARE packages to Germany. And now, my years are filled with illness, pain and stress. If I didn't know that God is still watching over me, I'd have given up long ago. I think He brings each of us to a place, one way or another where we can only rely on him, not our siblings, relatives and friends. Some of them may be causes of great stress but when they've been there for a lot of your life, you still love them anyway, even if they don't believe you are suffering and you can't believe how they are treating you.

I just recently picked up the bulletin that my brother designed for our mother's memorial service. (I have two brothers and a sister).
The verse below her picture in which she is reading the Bible says: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2. Cor.9) The rest of that verse and v. 10 are strange and hard for us to do but so true. Maybe today I needed to read that part. It does fit in with what our topic is.

Mair, I tried to find your book when I was close to a Christian bookstore on Sept 3. Unfortunately, I couldn't remember your whole name nor the title of the book. But they do have it, according to their computer records. So I'll try to get it.

I'll be praying for all of you and I could use some too.

Bek said...

oooooooh. awesome translation of that scripture. and you what i think? i think you have a special avenue to the Father's heart b/c of the fathers you've had on earth. i think other people with more perfect fathers will not know the Father in Heaven like you do.

Dineen A. Miller said...

Mair, I think we had the same bio dad. LOL! Right down to the heroin. I have no idea where he is now. I went into hiding (long story) and haven't heard from him since. Can't find him.

That's ok. I pray for him every week. For healing and salvation. The man I call Dad has cancer now, but God is taking care of him too. I asked for more time and we've gotten that. The threat of death can really make you take inventory. You just never know.

Heather Diane Tipton said...

Praying my friend. But then, you already know that because we already talked about all this.

Beautiful post