Altar Call - Opelika-Auburn News
December 10, 2000
My wife and I watched Florida beat Auburn in football last Saturday, but at the same time
we watched something far more significant. We watched a father and his 20-year-old son put the
past behind them and begin building a new relationship.
The young man’s parents divorced when he was only four. It was a dreadful time for the boy - to see his dad move out, leaving him and his older sister to live with their mom. He did not understand why it had to happen. In his pain he said to his grandfather, "My daddy doesn’t love me anymore." Though he tried, his grandfather could not stop the pain or help him understand why his parents could no longer live together.
Teen years were difficult for this young man. Like many of his peers he "tried to find love in all the wrong places." For the past two or three years he has struggled to "find himself." He will tell you that the road to manhood has been a rocky one for him.
For the past year he has been on his own, finding a way to provide for himself. He got a job, then another, and has managed to provide food, clothing, and shelter for himself. Slowly he has learned to be responsible, to keep his word, and to embrace the basic rules of society. Then a young woman came into his life. He found himself wanting to spend time with her.
She brought out the best in him. They became good friends and the friendship led to romance. He got up the nerve to give her a ring and ask her to marry him. She accepted.
But all these years there has been a void in his life. He had missed having his dad as a key player in his life. He had gotten over much of his resentment about his dad not being there for him, and he was able to admit that he longed to have a strong relationship with him.
All these years his dad had also endured the pain of not being there for his son as he had grown up. Circumstances forced him to forge a life for himself that did not include this son whom he had never stopped loving. Like his son he had done the best he could to make a life for himself in another setting. He could only hope that one day they could become friends as men and find a way to share the love that neither of them had been able to express within a family circle.
A new relationship began to emerge when the young man began to think about marriage and having a family of his own. He got on the phone and began talking to his dad. He would like to bring his fiancée home, all the way from Arizona, to meet his dad, and the rest of his family. His dad dropped his own plans and drove down from Kentucky for the meeting. Nothing seemed more important than being available to his son and the woman who was to become his wife.
They met together Saturday afternoon at grandfather’s home in Alabama. His dad treated him like a man, affirmed his good judgment in his plans, and gave his blessing to the bride-to-be. They laughed and talked for hours, shared good food, and went to church together on Sunday morning. They agreed on an October date for the wedding. Before they parted, to make their way back to Arizona and Kentucky, the two men had allowed some healing to occur, and some bonding to begin.
I know it happened. I was there. I am the grandfather. Grandmother and I saw this bonding begin with our own eyes. We saw something begin that can only get better as two men continue to replace their pain with a love that can bring them joy for as long as they live.