November 8, 2014 as scrolling through Facebook, I come across a photograph from inside a hospital room. My uncle was in a hospital several hours away. He and I were only 7 years apart, and quite frankly never had a great relationship. He had been born with an extremely rare congenital heart defect, and had lived his entire life as a miracle. His parents, my grandparents, raised him at all times concerned about his fragile health. Neither the doctors, nor either of his parents ever expected him to outlive them. He was never “normal”. He never was able to ride a bicycle, run or play sports, never had a career, never learned to drive, never moved out, never married or had children. He was never taught the skills necessary to live independently.
Though we were close in age, and from first through seventh grade I was under his same roof regularly, we never quite connected. He became jealous of me because I was able to do all the things he couldn’t, I was healthy and active, and very outgoing. My grandparents’ home was my safe place. It was the only place that would remain constant my entire life. My grandmother would always have these words for me, “This is the day that the Lord hath made, rejoice and be glad in it.” (found in Psalm 118:2) She loved everyone she ever met, and her family knew we were her prized and cherished gifts. She passed away in 1991 after a long hard battle with cancer. Many people expected my uncle, her only son to die without her care, or simply die of a broken heart because he too loved her with the same love I did. That was not the case. God had something else in mind.
Shortly after my grandmother passed, my grandfather began a series of abusive verbal attacks towards me. He would say hateful, hurtful, bogus things to demean and degrade the memory of my grandmother (his wife of 45+ years). He had a way of doing this when only I was around, and he would tell me I needed to hear the truth. For years, although not as frequently, I continued to travel and visit my grandfather, uncle, and mother in my hometown. After the death of my father, this maternal grandfather started these painful confrontations regarding the daddy I loved. Again, I continued to visit and meet with my family, and he got to meet and hold his great-grandbabies, an honor and experience neither my beloved grandmother, or daddy received. With each visit, I would be crushed at the horrible things this grandfather would say about the two people who had shown me the most love in my life.
At the sudden death of my mother’s third husband. She called because she was distraught and grieving her loss. Within hours of this death, my grandfather had immediately started whispering his ugliness to her. My grandfather had built a garage apartment for my mom and her then husband. So now, knowing she was broke, and at a time of raw emotion he was making her more miserable with his verbal hissing and deceit. My little family was a week out from moving to a new city and knee deep in all the normal moving stressors, when I received the heartbreaking news from my mom. However, within mere hours my husband and I dropped everything to be at my mother’s side. I helped with finances, made phone calls and got her caught up by paying delinquent accounts, while my husband was the guard between my grandfather and my mom and me. We also made arrangements for her to come stay with us during the move and setting up the new house.
Within months of being settled in our new home, my grandfather and family were traveling to my new city to celebrate his birthday. I was so excited and wanted them all to come see my house, and even had been baking a cake for his surprise! The first cake, I had made was a total flop, and I baked another to make everything just right. It would be the first time my grandfather had seen where I had lived in almost 25 years. When they got to town, through a telephone conversation I learned that they would not be visiting my house at all this visit, and was told to just bring the cake to the hotel. What? Why? I was told by my uncle, and my mom not to push, and not to ask. I was disappointed to say the least, and I loaded my two beautiful babies, and the cake, and drove to their hotel room 15 minutes away.
I asked my mom to watch my kids while I went and had a talk with my grandfather. I wanted to know why he was refusing to come to my house. He first started in with the fact that he thought I was trying to show off. Then, he began his diatribe against my grandmother and father. I had recently been baptized, and I guess the Holy Spirit finally gave me the courage to tell him to stop. So, I did. This last face to face, one on one conversation we had I can only describe as a battle of spiritual warfare. I felt as though I was looking evil in the face. I put my hand on his knee and told him to stop talking about people who can’t even defend themselves. My truth, my memories of them, nor my feelings would be changed based on his outlandish claims attacking their good name. I told him that I loved him, I would be praying for him, but he would no longer get to share his warped “truth” with me ever again.
I left him sitting there after those parting words, and I was still physically shaking when I met up with my mom and babies. I told her of the conversation that had just happened. “Why did he want to hurt me?” I asked. What came next was a continuation of hurt and betrayal. My mom, and my uncle had been listening to my grandfather spew his “truths” about me for years. They were either too scared to stand up to him, or started believing the lies he was shoveling out. This was not the first, nor the last time in life my mother and I would stop talking.
There is hope in this story, but I pause here and will continue with more very soon. Let me share Psalm 27:10 with you that is my favorite of all time because it clearly says that my earthly father and mother will forsake me, but my God, my Savior will never leave or abandon me.