Daddy’s Heart

Column Post by Lisa Easterling

I’ve spent most of my life fatherless. My parents divorced when I was two, and my early childhood became a fractured maze of being stolen by one from the other, then back again. For two years my mother thought I was dead, ironic in light of the car accident during that period that nearly took my life.

I hated hearing discouraging things from one parent about the other. This went both ways, leaving me wondering if it was even possible to know the truth about either one. Her family supported her side; his family supported his. I was left in the middle in the dark.

Eventually they reached a visitation agreement: with Daddy for the school year and with Mama summers and Christmas vacations. I loved him dearly, my daddy who adored me and called me his heart. At the same time I missed my mother as only a little girl can. The summer after sixth grade I asked to live with Mama in Florida. Daddy reluctantly agreed.

I wasn’t far into eighth grade when the call came that Daddy had died. Mama dropped everything and rushed me back toGeorgia. The air in the funeral home hung thick with the sickening sweet of flowers and the pall of loss. It would be years later before I would look back and realize how the atmosphere must have tensed when we arrived.

No one knew what I was feeling—not when I walked mechanically to his side, and not when someone whispered that he’d still be alive if his daughter hadn’t left with his heart. No one possibly could.

We buried Daddy in the Pine Grove cemetery. I wore a blue dress with white lace and a basket of tulips embroidered below the collar. I clutched the tiny white handkerchief with pale blue stitching that Mama had tucked into my hand in the back seat of the hearse. I heard someone whisper that Daddy had died of heart failure. I would spend the next 20 years of my life carrying sole blame for his death.

It took many years for me to fully process my dad’s death. I had to hear it from one of his family members that I hadn’t actually killed him. It came as a shock to me to learn that I wasn’t responsible, that he had died of congestive heart failure due to many other health complications and not because I had literally stolen his heart. At 30 years old the burden of blame I had carried all those years fell like an anvil from my chest. Oh, God. It really wasn’t my fault?

It would be difficult to measure the toll those years of heaviness took on my perception of my self-worth. I had barely allowed myself to even think of him all that time, I who felt like a murderer who certainly didn’t deserve to recall happy memories of a man she had sentenced to death. A lot changed once I realized all that weight should never have been mine to carry.

I’ve spent the past 20 years remembering Daddy for the amazing man he was, recalling snapshots of childhood with him there teaching me, showing me off to everyone, laughing that crazy laugh of his, drinking sweet tea from a jelly jar and telling jokes where he always sat at the end of the kitchen table. These are the memories a little girl needs, even after she is all grown up.

I’ve spent most of my life fatherless. But I am blessed that only three years after losing Daddy I met a wonderful man who guided me along God’s path and became not only my husband but my lifelong best friend.

And I am blessed to have had the Daddy I had even if only for my first 12 years. How I wish we could have had more time, that he could have known my husband and our children. I will always wish I could have spent more of my life as my daddy’s heart. I know I can’t change what was. But I can, and will always, live a life that would have made him proud.

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P.S. We’d love to know your thoughts; be sure to share in the comments section below. This month we will draw TEN winners from our commenters and the winners will receive one of these two  books, Hope for a Hurting Heart or To Let You Know I Care by our featured author this month, Cheryl Karpen

Lisa Easterling is a lifelong resident of the Tampa Bay area alongside her husband Steve, five children, and two grandchildren. A pioneer for home education in Florida, she has served in various areas of Christian ministry for the past 32 years. Lisa is a lifelong writer, editor, creative writing coach, and Site Director for Write Where It Hurts. Her favorite place to write is near the ocean, and she particularly loves helping others to fall in love with words. Lisa blogs at www.lisaeasterling.com and can be reached by emailing blue@lisaeasterling.com.

Read more encouraging stories from brave-hearted women here. Be sure to grab your free copy of inspirational quotes and writing prompts while you’re there. (Look over on the right hand side!)

4 thoughts on “Daddy’s Heart

  1. Thank you Lisa….I can’t imagine how that must have felt when you loved your Dad so…my life was one of confusion with parents as well…but through incest from my Dad…..so, I didn’t really have a Dad at all after those boundaries were crossed…I have posted my book that is in the last editing phase right now, on my blog at http://reflectionsofgracehome.wordpress.com/. It is in our transparencies that we see how the Lord will use our sufferings to help so many!!

  2. I am so sorry you had to endure that, dear Dixie. I can’t imagine such destruction in a father/daughter relationship. I am ever so grateful that our great God can heal all wounds and bind up the broken-hearted and mend what was torn asunder. He is, after all, our God of impossible things. I am praying blessings over your book, and over the heart of each reader as your transparency is used to bring deep healing and restoration to lives worldwide. I wish you love and immeasurable success with the sharing of your story, dear friend.

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