I made the mistake of watching a Christmas movie late last night. I normally don't watch them because it is the hardest time of the year for me, my family gone, been alone so long. The movie was "A Christmas Visitor", about a family who lost their son during the Gulf War on Christmas Eve. There was a specific scene in there where the father meets the bus with his son to send him on his way. His son was trying to make him understand it was his choice to go. After the son boarded the bus, the father turned toward the camera with tears in his eyes.
That brought back a deep memory of my first day leaving home for college. I had worked so hard to find the money, scholarships, etc. to continue my education and to go away to school, to start my junior year in KY. It was 700 miles away from home and I was going by Greyhound bus. My parents fought for years. I joined in my high school years just to survive. He was an alcoholic and a mean man during those years. I was fighting to get away from him and my mother, the mother who spent my entire life telling me she didn't want me. She never wanted another child, I was stupid, I was ugly, I would never be anything. I was more determined than ever to get as far away from them as I could go. That Greyhound bus never looked so good.
I had never heard of Asbury College, but God opened the door through several unusual doors that lead me straight to theirs. So in January of 1981, I was on my way. He never said a word to me when I boarded that bus. I just said I'd call when I arrived to let them know I was safe.
The next day I called to tell them I was fine. He answered the phone. On the other end was a man crying. I almost thought I dialed the wrong number. He finally passed the phone to my mother. I was angry that he was crying and asked what she had done. She said she didn't do anything. That he was upset that I left. I never gave it another thought until last night. That movie ripped the only band aid off the hidden wound that had not healed all those years ago and the tears flowed and flowed. Even though that was the most painful yet exciting time of my life, it was the worst of his. I never realized how much he did care.
It wasn't till the time after my mother died and years later when he was so sick and I took care of him that I saw a much kinder man. He had given up alcohol. The worse part for me was he never remembered the words or actions of his drinking days so he couldn't tell me he was sorry. That has been left as an open sore for me to deal with for my lifetime.
He has been gone 14 years now, but those actions, those scars, all memories still come flooding back. I wish people would realize their actions do affect their children, total strangers, dear friends and family no matter what they do. Whether good or bad, they affect others.