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Examiner
  • Sandy Turner: A lesson learned from Dad on truth, humility and forgiveness

  • With my son-in-laws both celebrating their first Father’s Day, I couldn’t help but to think about the role Dad plays in my life. Even though our relationship was a late bloomer, he taught me more about myself than I ever wanted to admit.

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  • With my son-in-laws both celebrating their first Father’s Day, I couldn’t help but to think about the role Dad plays in my life. Even though our relationship was a late bloomer, he taught me more about myself than I ever wanted to admit.
    I grew up with him being absent most of the time as he worked long hours in the summer as owner of a construction company and in the winter months spent a great deal of time out of town. He would pack up for the lake, without me or mom, and it was just considered the norm. Mom never complained and with my siblings being so much older and already starting families of their own, I didn’t question my parents’ lifestyle choices.
    I never heard them argue, but also rarely saw any affection between them. They were polite and respectful to each other and seemed content in this arrangement. It wasn’t until mom had passed and I was taking care of Dad, with dementia creeping in ever so slowly, he entrusted me with the truth. I don’t care why he shared his other life with me as it helped me know him on a deeper level than I ever had before.
    When my girls were teenagers, Dad asked if we would join him for a trip to the lake. It was the first time anyone in the family had been invited to see where he spent the majority of his time, when he wasn’t working. Mom was all for it, even though she wasn’t invited, as he was already showing signs of dementia and she worried he was having troubles remembering the way back home.
    The property and trailer he owned were modest but very nice and clean. He was an excellent host and the girls had a great time. One evening as Dad and I sat outside he began his story.
    When I was just a toddler he fell in love with a divorced woman who lived at the lake. She had two small children, a boy and a girl, the same age as I was. This relationship continued for many years and he had made the decision to ask mom for a divorce, when this other woman suddenly died of breast cancer. By this time the kids were teenagers and he loved this woman so much, he finished raising these kids as his own, at the same time he was trying to raise me.
    I wasn’t sure how to respond to such news. He wanted me to know, either to explain his absence or his heart told him I would love him regardless of his past or what would become of his future.
    While taking care of Dad all those years, I learned a lesson he didn’t even realize he was teaching me - forgiveness feels a lot better than being bitter, and telling the truth is always better than living a lie. During those last few years he would often call me Sarah. I later learned this was the name of the other woman’s daughter.
    Page 2 of 2 - It doesn’t matter what you call me Dad, I’ll always answer.
    Sandy Turner lives in Independence. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com
     
     

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