I was a couple months shy of three, when my father killed himself—too young for any memories of him to take permanent root in my mind. Whatever recollections I had, drifted away, lost forever like helium balloons let go on a windy day.
Daddy was schizophrenic, or perhaps manic-depressive (I’ve heard both), but in 1974, his doctors weren’t sure either. One weekend when Momma had taken my sister Susan and I off to visit our Aunt Neva, Daddy took a shotgun to his head and pulled the trigger.
I never knew any of this until much later. My sister told me that, for months, I asked, “When is Daddy coming home?” My broken-hearted mother arranged meetings with a child psychologist, who helped me understand that Daddy was dead.
Growing up, fathers were a great mystery to me. Having no memories of my own and getting no information from my mother, I built my concept of what a father would be like around television programs. After school, I’d lie on my stomach, legs bent at the knees and crossed in the air, chin cupped in hands propped up by elbows, and watch my favorite shows. Watching Mike Brady on The Brady Bunch, I would think, “Wouldn’t he be a good daddy for me?” Another strong contender was the dad on Courtship of Eddie’s Father.
I longed to know something—anything—of my father. Was he funny? Was he smart? Did he like ice cream? Did he like me? These questions remained unanswered; my only link a black and white photo of a good-looking man with sideburns, who leaned on an old Chevrolet. I’d create father/daughter scenes in my mind, starring the man with sideburns and me. I imagined him reading bedtime stories and singing me to sleep, but wasn’t sure if my fantasies resembled the truth.
One summer, when I was ten, my father’s sister, Beverly, visited and gave me a gift, which became my most prized possession—a recording of my father singing.
“Peter had a beautiful voice,” she said.
I listened to that tape over and over, drinking in the voice of the man who was my father, hearing him sing songs I didn’t know: Danny Boy, Ave Maria, O Holy Night.
“My father sang,” I said to myself, delighted with this jewel of information.
Soon after, I watched The Sound of Music, and decided that Captain Von Trapp, who sang “Edelweiss” in such a lovely tenor, depicted Daddy perfectly.
As I matured, I learned things that proved me wrong. Things relatives hadn’t said around me when I was little, but apparently thought I could handle now: “Peter was violent. He drank. He couldn’t hold a job…mentally ill.” The father-image I had so carefully constructed, shattered, and I concluded that my father had been nothing I hoped he was.
In school, I avoided anything father-related. Making Father’s Day cards was horrible. Honey, isn’t there a grandpa or someone you could make a card for? I was ashamed of being fatherless, the daughter of a man who committed suicide. I dreaded the question, “What happened to your dad?”
I began to wonder what the biological implications were for me. I recall a high school Sociology class, where we learned about mental disorders. Schizophrenia, my teacher said, was a condition that usually struck in one’s late teens.
Heart pounding, I raised my hand and asked the question that haunted me: “Is it hereditary?”
“It can be.” She answered.
From then on, with every teenage mood swing, I was convinced I was schizophrenic.
At sixteen, I gave my life to God. Intellectually, I knew He could fill the void in my life. The Bible said He was a father to the fatherless, even gave me permission to call Him Abba, Daddy, but I still couldn’t grasp what that meant. Was He harsh or gentle? How did He feel about me?
I began to cry out, “God, what kind of a father are You? Please show me.”
The answer to my prayer came in the form of a visiting evangelist, who blew into our church that breezy autumn. In one sermon, he referred to a verse I’d never heard.
Zephaniah 3:17, “He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.”
Rejoice? Over me? With singing? The words felt like rain to my parched soul. I read the verse over and over, memorized it, let it soak into my heart.
My Father—my forever Father—sings over me!
The opinions expressed by authors may not necessarily reflect the opinion of FaithWriters.com.
Accept Jesus as Your Lord and Savior Right Now - CLICK HERE
JOIN US at FaithWriters for Free. Grow as a Writer and Spread the Gospel.