Love, Divorce, Broken Families and Trusting in the Sovereignty of the Lord
|Dad. mother, Terry, Kenny and me. Late 1950's.|
It's been a month since I last wrote a blog post here and I hope to fill you in on what has been happening, as well as request your prayers for us.
What many of you do not know is I've been estranged from my father for almost a year, and it has been a terribly depressing time for me and my family with much worry and grief. My father is 82 years-old with Parkinson's Disease and Alzheimer's Disease. How did our estrangement happen? Let me tell you our story with the hope you'll pray for us and possibly avoid such trouble in your lives, too.
My parents met and fell madly in love in the mid 1950's. Dad was a handsome airman in the United States Air Force and mom was a captivating beauty living in a town near the base where Dad was stationed.
My father had a brief marriage to a childhood sweetheart in his hometown who he divorced; I believe mom was under the impression that Dad was single when they met and they married as soon as possible after his divorce became final. Mom had also been married at a young age to her childhood sweetheart, a violent young man, with whom she had two sons and eventually divorced due to domestic violence.
I was born within the first year of mom and dad's marriage - mom's third child and my father's first and only. I loved them both dearly - mom appeared glamorous and dad quite handsome to me as a child. But one thing marred my happiness: frequent fighting and arguing between the two people I loved most in the world.
Mom and Dad separated when I was 10 years-old. Dad had met a woman and fell in love with her (or so he thought.) Mom and I left our home and moved in with an aunt who lived out of town. It was a miserable time for me. I hated being apart from my father and I hated leaving my friends and going to a new school. It's also when I began my lifelong love of reading - I would read fiction and lose myself in the stories. I think that is why I still feel secure when reading or as a believer holding a Bible in my arms (if you see me wrapped around a Bible, you can be certain I'm under stress).
After 10 months of separation, mom and dad reunited. It turns out the other woman was unfaithful to dad and he sought mother's forgiveness, which she freely gave. Life returned to normal and we were once more a family.
Shortly after my parents reunion, mother became deathly ill and almost died from complications of Crohn's Disease. She lost a kidney and part of her small intestines to gangrene. I remember pleading with God to save my mother's life, which He did; I didn't know God, but He knew me.
Then during my later teen years, mom caught dad secretly meeting another woman; I suppose she had gotten suspicious and followed him one afternoon. I remember she came home very distraught and said he had tried to run over her. I think he panicked and tried to flee while she was holding onto the car door. Mother was devastated - father was grieved and wept while telling us he had been living a double life for sometime. I remember we had just joined a local church where Dad and I were baptized. Dad had even joined the men's group that met regularly for breakfast and prayer at the local Denny's Restaurant.
Dad was determined to leave and packed his belongings - I told him that if he left my mother, I would never speak to him again. I thought he would love me enough to stay if I gave him an ultimatum. He left anyway.
Mom and Dad's divorce was dragged out over a period of several years as mom fought it with everything she had. Dad was determined to divorce and marry his new love - a woman a few years older than me who had a husband and two daughters who I never met; she died of ovarian cancer a couple of years after she and Dad had finally married, and I held true to my word of not speaking to him... Until I couldn't take the pain of separation anymore and finally broke down and called him. I apologized with many tears and he quickly forgave me. By this time I was married and had two sons.
We quickly reunited and I met his new love, Peggy, who he eventually married. She was nice to me and my family. I never thought of her as a motherly figure due to our closeness in age and the fact that I was a grown married woman when she and Dad married. But I liked her and I watched Dad change from a hard drinking man into a homebody who began taking an interest in me and my family.
Several years later, mom contracted an aggressive form of cancer and died. She had come to know and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ a year or so before her death, as had I. We had sweet fellowship in the Lord and I look forward to being with her in Heaven; I have no doubt she is there.
Dad and Peggy became more prominent in our family life. I often spent time with them at their home after Dad's retirement. I liked Peggy and thought of her as more of a sister figure than stepmother. Then at a fairly young age Peggy suffered a massive heart attack which she survived and was told she needed a heart transplant. Dad sold their house and they moved closer to the hospital in St. Louis where they waited a year or two for a donor that would be a match. Peggy eventually had the transplant and began the long process of recovery.
After the transplant, we grew distant; Peggy was weak and recovering - I understood she needed rest and that she wasn't up to having company. The years went by and Peggy no longer communicated with me. She would send Dad alone to visit me and my family while she went shopping with her sister. I could see that we were growing distant, and I assumed it was due to Peggy's health. When I would call Dad and ask if I could visit them (they lived 3 hours away from me), he would either make excuses why it was a bad time or if he agreed I could visit, he would call me back within days and tell me it wasn't a good time, or Peggy was sick, etc. This went on for approximately 15 years after the transplant. Then after Dad had a health scare, I was allowed to visit him and Peggy occasionally. I thought we were mending our relationship until last summer when Peggy became seriously ill and was hospitalized for many weeks.
I was needed to help care for Dad who had been diagnosed with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases while Peggy was hospitalized. I took him into my home for a brief time and enjoyed caring for him. I lived 45 minutes from the hospital and just couldn't get Dad there to be with Peggy as much as he and she wanted. Peggy was very ill and didn't understand why Dad wasn't with her as much as he had been before coming to my house. So, after taking Dad to see her one afternoon, she had an emotional blow-up and I left her room in tears. I won't go into detail, but I had never before seen Peggy so irate and full of anger at me and my family. Peggy's sister was there and she then took care of both Peggy and Dad for approximately the next six months.
Then one day Peggy's sister called to apologize - she had also been the object of Peggy's anger and the recipient of harsh words. Peggy had become irrational and taken my dad to live with an invalid sister-in-law. We both were somewhat comforted to know they would at least have medical professionals visiting on a regular basis, as the sister-in-law was receiving home nursing care. During this time Peggy wasn't taking phone calls from me or other family members and Dad had lost his phone. I was worried, but took continued to find comfort in the Sovereignty of the Lord.
Then about one month ago, Peggy's sister called to tell me Peggy and Dad had been victims of identity theft. The woman who was a caregiver for the invalid they were staying with had stolen their credit cards, opened new ones in their name, and had stolen their valuables. A social worker was alerted to the situation and found Peggy and Dad a nursing home to live in. I went to visit them and Peggy was a broken woman - she sat on the edge of her bed slumped over. She was confined to a wheelchair and had been hospitalized a couple of times within the last few months. Dad was frail, underweight and just stayed in bed. Then about a week later, Peggy was rushed to a hospital; she never regained her health and the doctors advised hospice care. It had been almost 18 years since the heart transplant and she was weakening.
You'll have to forgive my lack of clarity for the time during Peggy's journey to death. It must be the stress, but I can't remember it too clearly. I think it was a week that she lingered - fighting and striving to fend off that foe we call death. She was in great distress until the Hospice doctor prescribed stronger doses of morphine to keep her calm. I remember walking into Peggy and Dad's room one morning and finding Peggy naked, screaming and Dad completely bewildered. He told me he didn't know who that woman was - I explained she was his wife and they had been married for almost 35 years.
Peggy passed away last Saturday. Dad called me yesterday saying how lonely he is. I sit here pouring out my heart to you and asking for your prayers, as well as sending you a warning that if you don't make Christ your refuge and seek to live according to His commands, you just might find yourself in a similar terrible situation.
I also want to leave you with a message of hope - there is forgiveness in Christ Jesus. Please put your trust in Him.
I now hope to minister to my father and see him put his trust in Christ Jesus.
Peggy's funeral is tomorrow and my sincere hope is she came to know the Lord before her death as several of us ministered to her during her last days on this earth.
May this be the prayer of your heart as it has long been mine:
Lord, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is: that I may know how frail I am. (Psalm 39.4 KJV)
So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. (Psalm 90.12 KJV)In Lord Jesus Name, I pray, amen.
|Dad and Peggy - Late 1990's|
June 6, 2018
Today was Peggy's funeral and the grace and love of our Lord was very much present. Peggy's loved ones were comforted with the hope Peggy had become a Christian and her soul is now in the Lord's keeping. The service brought us the closure and peace needed. Thank you to all the saints who prayed. May God bless you. Amen.
* For a Biblical viewpoint on divorce, its consequences, and the opportunity for church ministry; please read the article "Divorce" by RC Sproul posted at Tabletalk Magazine.