(Editor’s Note: Caroyn Newman wrote this column, “Father’s Day and Foregiveness,” in 2006 and recently updated it for Spirit of Abilene.)
By CAROLYN NEWMAN
“I have returned to the God of my Father, the most God-like man a child could know.” Those are lyrics from Marijohn Wilkin”s “I Have Returned.” Before singing it at church, I asked, “Is that a description of your Dad?” Although mine had great qualities such as a keen sense of humor and a diligent work ethic, truthfulness and faithfulness to my Mom were not among them. He left home and remarried when I was 12.
I can still see the hurt in my Mother’s eyes but she never said unkind words about him, always fostering a relationship with Daddy and me. She said that he was my father, no matter what he had done. She always made sure no one knew how much we struggled and there was always fresh vegetables, laughter, and gospel music in our home. She encouraged Daddy to send me to college. Now there was a miracle waiting to happen! Of all things, I chose Baylor University with no clue about how expensive it was. I just knew it was God’s will for me to go there. I went one semester at a time. Sometimes he would call and say, “You have to come home, I can’t make the payment.” He would call within the next few days with good news, “I sold three Pontiacs. You can stay.” He worked hard to see that I had educational opportunities he and my Mom never experienced. I made sure I let him know how grateful I was.
Here’s the forgiveness part: Some years ago, I went back to the Baylor campus and heard the Pat Neff chimes. At that moment I thought, “Daddy, I know you were sorry that you left Mother and me but God allowed you to send me to Baylor where I would earn a bachelor of music education degree and would meet my husband. We now are blessed with a daughter, son-in-law, son, daughter-in-law, and six grandchildren. At that memorable, emotional moment I said aloud, “Daddy, I forgive you and I thank you for sending me to this university.” Although it took 50 years, I cannot find adequate words to describe the feeling of complete forgiveness. Leaving Waco, heading for Houston, we came upon the road sign for the town of Marlin, which was the first name of my Daddy. Then we came to another small town and it gave me chills when I saw the last name of my Daddy on the sign. Beyond conincidence, I knew that was an affirmation that God and Daddy were smiling. Happy Father’s Day, Daddy.
Carolyn Newman is a retired public school music specialist who spent much of her career at Dyess Elementary School.