I never verbally abused my boys; but I had my own issues. We’ll get into those later. This little event did stop my dad verbally abusing my mom for a very long time. I told you; I saw him crying when he was looking for me. He never apologized though. He was just unusually quiet around us. He didn’t hug me or tell me he loved me when I was brought back. He was out in the garage working. I guess that is how he coped. Then, I only saw it as him rejecting me! I expected him to come running and hug me, tell me that he loved me, and that he was glad I was alright. I even expected an “I’m sorry”.
I got none of that. I would have settled for him yelling at me for doing such a stupid thing as running away. I guess it was the nothingness that affected me. I just felt rejected! It was then when we really began to go our separate ways. He no longer tried to get me to work in the shop with him and I just avoided him. Eventually things went back to the way they were. Momma made me promise to never do that again and not to confront him. I never did! I did though beg her many times over my teenage years to divorce him. She never would. She always said that she loved him and was committed to him.
With her, my dad did have a very tender side at times. I didn’t see it much; probably because I was not looking. She later would describe him as being very loving quite often and a romantic. All I saw was the toll his words had on her and the anxiety she always had over trying to figure out how to pay bills when he would take no thought on how he spent it. I heard him say one time after he cashed in her insurance policy to fund some project, he said “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is mine”. He cashed in everything that had any value and he died leaving my mother $80,000.00 in debt and with not a penny to bury him with. How my dad treated my mother did have another affect on her. This happened when I was thirteen.
A doctor we had thought it was a good idea to prescribe Valium for what he called anxiety and depression. This was back when doctors were giving it away like candy. Momma learned to escape this way. She always was big into pills curing everything, but this was the first time I saw it as a big problem. I soon found out from the way some family made jokes of her that, I guess sleeping pills was why she was so called “sick a lot”. For a couple of years I fought with her to put away the pills. I would flush them down the toilet or throw them away. She would hide them and would search for them. My dad did nothing. He would just put her down as weak and frail. I also learned at age thirteen who the strong one was. It wasn’t my dad; at least not when it concerned me.
The day before I was to enter Junior High School, I fell off the roof of the house and broke both bones in my left arm. My dad was building a den onto the house. We had put several layers of plastic on the roof with boards and nails as it rained during the night. He had me help him take the plastic off before I was to go to school. The roof was shaped like a top hat. Sticking out more in the middle than on the two ends of the den overhanging what would be the patio. Instead that is where we through all the boards with nails in them to hold the plastic down. I stepped where I thought there was roof; there was not. I went straight through the plastic head first. Luckily, I put out my left arm to break my fall right in the big middle of the boards with nails in them.
I was in total shock; my left arm was shaped like an ‘L’. All I can remember is hearing my dad totally lose it. He was wondering around like a chicken with his head cut-off; like my momma always said. He said he had to take a shower first and then he would take me to the ER. I remember my mother grabbing him and telling him “look at his arm, he can’t wait till you take a shower, get him in the car and go”. He did. I know my dad was a strong man. If it had been anyone else besides me, he would have taken control and been calm. But if it was me hurt, he would lose it. I later realized, too late, that just showed how much he loved me; I just couldn’t see it and he wouldn’t or couldn’t show it.
Since his death in ’01, I’ve come to realize a lot of examples of how he loved me. I can’t wait to get to Heaven and tell him I know! I also have come to realize just how loved he was by a lot of people; family, friends, co-workers, my mother, and Edgar. You will meet him later. He became a very important member of our family. When I went off to college, he spent a lot more time with my dad. They became very close. He in some ways was the son my dad never had. Edgar loved to learn about wood working and all the things my dad enjoyed. I wasn’t jealous actually. I was glad for dad was different with Edgar. He was patient, didn’t expect perfection, and according to my mom, dad was making up for what he didn’t do with me. He told her he felt like when he was with Edgar; he was with me. This meant a lot to me. He was thinking of me. It made me feel good to know that and watch how he was a real dad to Edgar. I also know what affect it had on Edgar. It meant the world to him; as it did to me.
Edgar wrote my dad a poem after he died and read it at the funeral. It was one of the most poignant moments in the funeral. I will share it with you here. Despite the things I did not like about my dad; he was my dad and I loved him. Many others loved him too. He did much for many throughout his life. He served his God the best that he could. He worked hard all of his life. None of us are perfect. We all have our issues. I have certainly had mine and they are laid bare for all here. Some will not like the truth I have told. Some will take offense. I understand! I felt it necessary to tell this story as it had everything to do with who I came to be and the issues I came to face. I don’t believe my dad was any less a beloved figure because his faults were made known here. Those who loved him, including me, will keep on loving him in spite of his faults. That is the definition of love. I have found as I have gone on my journey who my friends are and who really loves me when they found my faults were made known.
In truth, I have very few people left. My sins seem much worse than my father’s ever could have been. They were not his fault. He was one picture in the puzzle. I made my own choices as he made his. My dad was who he was. A very gifted and talented man who sacrificed much to help others, who served his God faithfully all of his life, who was one of the most funniest and engaging people I have ever known, and was a human being whose humanness was written about by me. Here is Edgar’s wonderful poem. It is on the following page as it was written by Edgar.
For He: The Son I Could Be
Loving and caring
Kind and sharing
A man with a heart of gold
Remembering when we sat around
Listening to the stories you told
He made no difference in the color of our skin
He fully understood where I had been
As a young child he taught me how to glue wood and mend wood
Not to worry about being perfect
But do the best that I could
He and family tried to keep me on the right track
So, this poem is just a little I can give back
I hope, wish, and pray that we can meet up again one day
So I can say what I wanted to say when you were here all of those days
Cause I appreciate it in so many different ways.
your son by love,
Edgar Odell Early
Let’s get back to my mother. Say what you will about my mother and how she dealt with the verbal abuse and put downs. She was a very strong lady. She always saw me and my dad were taken care of and loved. She was committed to him to the end despite my numerous attempts begging her to divorce him. She wouldn’t; she couldn’t; she loved him! I did admire her for that a lot. But I learned a lot about her that day.
We got through this little adventure and momma and I got through the pills as well. I eventually helped her to stop most of them. Well, she really did it, but I think she did it because she knew how bad I wanted it. It was hard, but I admire her greatly for how hard she worked to get off them; if not entirely, enough to function. I do believe that is why she now has had kidney failure, but she is functioning okay for now. Another reason I hated my dad was the way he did with the few family members who would openly make fun of her often when we went to family functions. He would join in right along with them. It hurt my mother beyond belief; but she took every bit of it. She would never say anything bad about anybody; not even if they were making fun of her. What better example could anyone set for being like Christ than my mother. I believe she will be seated higher than all of us in Heaven. Many crowns He has stored there for her.
I used to ask her “why do you put up with that crap; why don’t you say something”? I would often tell her “I’m going to say something; you wait; I’ll set ‘em all straight”. She made me promise I would never say a word. I didn’t! I kept my promise to her all these years; Until Now! I even later avoided the family get-togethers because I didn’t think that I could go and not say anything. They thought I was just being anti-social or something. Momma always endured; she loved anyway; and she prayed for them and me. I wish I had followed your example momma. I still have trouble wanting justice or trying to control to see things go the way I think they should. I’m learning momma to give it up to God. After all, you taught me how.
You Taught Me How
You taught me how to love.
You taught me how to live.
You taught me who to trust.
You taught me how to give..
You taught me right from wrong.
You taught me how to be strong.
You taught me how to win.
You taught me how to lose.
You taught me I don't come 1st.
You taught me love don't hurt.
You taught me everything.
From God's great love
To the birds and bees above.
You also taught me how
To walk the narrow way.
Now I can teach others!
Now that I take care of my mother as she is almost bed bound and eighty-six years old, I have learned to appreciate her more and more as each day passes. She thinks she has out lived her usefulness. I wish that I could convince her how wrong she is. Here is a poem that I wrote for her trying to show her just how valuable she still is to me. She has walked right beside me all along this journey of mine. She has allowed me to take over all of her affairs and trusts me in everything. She still tells me, even today, there is nothing that I cannot do. She is still my best friend. She listens and reads every word I write and then tells me how wonderful it is. She was my example, my best example, of what a Christian should be. She is my only remaining hero; except for my greatest gift. Before all these foster kids and my two adopted boys momma; “I Knew You First”.
I Knew You First
My Children call you grandma.
But, I knew you first as mom.
Holding me when I was hurt and afraid,
Comforting me when the demons were under my bed,
Holding my hand on the first day of school,
Hearing my cries when the nightmares came,
Healing all the bumps and bruises;
Both physical and emotional,
Loving me when I wasn't so lovable,
Telling me there was nothing I couldn't do.
Your light continues to shine bright.
My children will see that light
As if it is shining for the first time.
But, I knew you first.
It shone on me so bright
And continues to light my way today.
You are still my inspiration.
Your are still my guide.
You are still the one who loves me
When the world says I’ve lost my way.
You still hold my hand
Like you did when I was young.
You still bring me comfort
When my failures have me undone.
You are still my best example
Of God’s great and perfect love.
She may not be able to cook and clean, drive anymore, or go to church like she wants to anymore, but she is my steady rock. She continues to encourage me and be there for me. That is what keeps me wanting to continue living in a world that is foreign to me. It is not where I belong. Let your light shine Momma as long as it can. You have much to give and much to share. It would be quite an adjustment and a great loss to continue running this race without you. Don’t be in such a great hurry to head where you belong; with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with Moses and Aaron; and with your parents BB and Nonnie. Stay with me just a little while longer.
This last great adventure of ours isn’t over yet. I believe God wants you to see it through until the end. This book is only the beginning. God’s work in me started in you. He showed you how to grow a son and you followed His example well. I only wish that I could have grown a son as good as you did Momma. You may have “Taught Me How” and maybe “I Knew You First”, but I let my own dreams and desires get in the way. I hope Momma that this book will show others not to make the same mistakes that I made. I hope that they will follow your example on “Growing A Son”.
Growing A Son
You provided love,
You planted a seed,
You provided water,
You provided food,
Then you prayed to God.
He gave the increase.
God needed your help
With growing this son.
You tended his garden
With love and with care.
Using His guidance,
You helped me to grow.
Like the mighty Oak,
You grew me to be strong.
Like the Apple tree,
You helped me to produce fruit.
Like the Elm,
You taught me to provide shade for others.
God taught you how to grow a son,
You truly knew how it should be done.
You didn't give me the gift of life,
But a new life you grew to be saved.
Thank you momma for caring so much,
To grow this son with God's green thumb.
If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW
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