Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Boxes, The Letter, & The Phone Call That Changed My Life

Here I sit again, complaining it's been a long time since writing.  Life happens.  I could blog regularly about things that happen in our life.  However, I've been busy living life so the blog always takes a backseat.  I could write about how we moved out two kids in one week from our home.  One to college and one to an apartment; or about our son's marriage and the addition of our wonderful daughter-in-law; or how two weeks after the wedding, we moved our daughter from Indiana to our home.  It's been a wonderfully, crazy, busy summer with many, many blessings.  Some days, I'll admit, I thought I was going to lose it - but by the grace of God we managed!

A little history to prepare you for the next part of this story.  I was born July 1967 as Cande Bowers.  Life became complicated for my parents who divorced.  My mom remarried, and the summer between my 3rd and 4th grade year, my step-father adopted me and I became Cande Weaver.  As you may guess, the story has much more to it, but as I knew it as a child, that is how it happened.  Always living in the same area, I continued to live around family of my father and for several years, only miles from him - never seeing him or interacting with family on my dad's side.

Fast forward to 2011.  My mom passes away and leaves me with boxes of items regarding my father with information from Vietnam, pictures of him, letters & cards he sent and an address of his current home.  No explanation of anything.  Many items not dated or labeled.  I was 43 years old at that time.  Never had I seen these items or once had they been discussed.  I wanted to throw it all away.  It meant nothing to me. My husband wouldn't let me.  It got put away in our basement.

In the process of moving children in, out, and in and out, the basement was in constant reorganization making room for items, removing items, and mostly in disarray.  I disliked our basement for many a disorganization reasons, but I also disliked it for all the questions a few unopened boxes continued to bring to my mind.  

Moving forward to November 2013.  No children at home & truly a new empty nest, I began to slowly go to the basement to once again, reorganize and declutter.  I never opened the boxes to look, but every time I passed them, I would continue to have the desire to know why my mom felt it was so important to leave it to me.  What  memories I had of my dad were not pleasant ones.  One day, I felt it was time to finally get answers.

Knowing that the answers could only come from my father, I sat to write a letter.  I wrote fast and easily.  No anxiety or anger.  I told my dad I'm not angry or bitter for the past.  I mentioned the boxes and how frustrated I was that I didn't have answers as to why these items were left for me.  I said I understood that Vietnam changed him, that I couldn't imagine sending my son to war.  I said I know war probably affected actions and decisions he made when he came home.  I had no idea.  I simply had no idea.  

There was a lot written in my letter of 2 1/2 pages.  I told my dad I believe in God and He forgives,  I asked for forgiveness.  I told him he could write or call me.  If he made the choice not to contact me, I was o.k. with that too.  I wanted him to know life would go on as I was happily married and had three great children.   All I knew for certain was I had God's peace that I had written the letter and whatever happens after that was left to my dad.

I didn't mail the letter the day I wrote it.  I told my husband over dinner what I had done.  He seemed surprised and asked if I had mailed it.  My answer was no, but I was going to do it tomorrow.  The next day, I put it out for the mail thinking I could grab it before they picked it up if I needed.  I got busy and then I heard the mail drop and could see the mailman walking through the yard.  It was gone.  My heart did a little flip but then again, I had total peace about the situation and went on about my day and weekend.

My phone was still on silent from the overnight when my dad called me.  My notification flashed I had a voicemail.  How weird it was that I listened to my dad's voice.  I didn't know it.  Obviously it was a man who didn't know what to say, but he wanted to talk because he had gotten my letter.  I showered, prayed, pondered what to say then made the return phone call.  He had just left the house.  I wasn't available until later that afternoon, so I left the best time to call me.

I had lunch with my oldest daughter and told her what was going on.  As I left her, I drove home thinking the phone call I was waiting for could change not only my life, but my children and husband as well.  Then I think I began to panic a bit as I've been so guarded with my thoughts and feelings - guarding a part of my life I barely knew.  I had  just realized the great impact all of this could have on everyone, just not myself, no matter if it turned out good or bad.  I tried to stay busy until my phone rang.  It was my dad.

I can't explain the weird mix of emotions on the first phone call that lasted nearly 3 hours.  I cried, I laughed, I shared details of my life with someone I hardly knew.  He explained a lot of things to me that happened when my parents were married, some of his experiences at war, his life now.  He cried.  He laughed. He repeatedly said he was "tickled to death" to be talking to me.  We made plans to talk again the next day.  When I hung up the phone, I knew I had undoubtedly done the right thing.

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