Thursday, July 25, 2013

Finally seeing my daddy after 25 years.

My father is now in a nursing home and I was finally able to see him. I tried to see him when he was arrested out in California but he refused to see me. The following is part of our conversation from Monday, July 22, 2013. I wrote this the day I saw him. My daddy seems to be in the beginning stages of dementia. However, he was very verbal and aware of his surroundings. He is very frail.

July 22, 2013

Unfortunately, I didn't recognize him at first but Mark did. Mark asked him if he was Marvin. My dad said yes - he was Marvin. I bent down so I could see his face and asked him if he was Marvin Maple to which he said yes. I told him that I was his daughter, Debbie. He looked straight into my eyes and said, "Debbie." I asked him if he knew my middle name and he told me that it was Denise and that I was his daughter, Deborah Denise. With that, I started wailing (it wasn't pretty) and tried to walk away because I thought that I was going to be sick. However, as I began to walk away, he grabbed my arm with both of his hands and wouldn't let go. At some point while I was crying, he let go with one of his hands and started patting my arm. I finally walked back in front of him and asked him if he knew why I was crying. He said no and asked me why I was crying. I asked him why he thought I was crying. He said that maybe it was my birthday or something. I told him it wasn't my birthday and I was crying because I was finally seeing him after 25 years and that he knew me. He lifted my hand to his face and began kissing it. He said, "I wouldn't have known you if you just walked by but I know you now. You are my daughter, Debbie."

I had not touched him. He had taken my arm and hand. I had not known what to expect when I saw him. I didn't know if he would yell and tell me to go away and refuse to see me. I didn't know if he was going to be in a coma since I knew none of his health issues. I only knew that I had to see him. As I stood before this man who had stolen my children, slandered my husband and me, and been the cause of so my pain and heartbreak in my life - I realized that it did not hold me captive. There was no bitterness - there was only forgiveness and an overwhelming love for my father.  I reached down and hugged him and he started kissing my cheek and I cried some more.

I asked him if he needed me to get him anything and if he was hungry. He said no that they would be feeding him soon. I asked him if he was happy here and he said yes. I asked him if he was being taken care of at this place, again he said yes. I found myself wanting to somehow protect him.

I asked him how Christi and Bobby were. He told me they were fine. I asked him how old they were and he told me around 7 and 8. (That's the age they were when my parents did this...) I told him that they were not 7 and 8 anymore - but were both in their thirties. He seemed surprised a bit but then appeared to remember they had grown up. I asked him if he could tell them the truth and he told me that he couldn't tell them the truth. I asked him why he couldn't and he said that he could only tell them what they wanted to hear. (I am not sure exactly who the they were that he was referring to....)

I told him that I loved him. He said that he knew that I loved him. I asked, "Daddy, how do you know that I love you?" He said, "I know because you have always told me that you love me. I know that you love me by the way you have always treated me."

I told him that I had prayed for 25 years to see him again. I told him that I prayed everyday for him and momma.

I asked him what happened to momma. He said, "Debbie, she died." I asked, "How did she die, daddy?" He told me that he didn't remember but she had died. I asked if he had buried her and he told me that yes he had buried her in Ohio. I said, "Did you bury her in Byer, Ohio." He corrected my pronunciation. And, then said yes. My father was born in Byer, Ohio.

I showed him pictures of Michael and Paul. I asked if he would like to see them. He said that he would like to see them - but then asked me if I thought that they would want to see him with everything that happened. I told him that I thought Michael would but that I wasn't sure about Paul since Paul was pretty protective of his momma and knew how badly that he had hurt me. With that, he started kissing my hand again and looked down at the floor. I asked him if he wanted a picture of Mark, Michael, Paul and me and he said that he did. Mark went to the car to get the picture. Daddy asked me, “Debbie, who is that man that you came in with?” I told him it was Mark, my husband. He seemed to search my face and then he said, “Oh, Debbie… that was Mark?” I said, “Yes, daddy.” He just hung his head and wouldn’t look at me for a moment. So, I began telling him happier memories.

We talked some more. I talked about things we did together when I was a teenager. I told him about the boys. I told him what Mark did for a living and what I did for a living. He never let go of my hand. He kissed my hand probably 20 to 30 times. I finally told him that I needed to leave and he asked me to please take him with me. I told him that I wished that I could. He asked several times, he said, "Debbie, I want to go with you." Mark finally said, "Well, Marvin, if things had been different, you would be living with us because Debbie never would have put you in a place like this." My dad looked down at the floor.

He asked us to take him to his room and the nurse at the desk informed me that he couldn’t be out of her sight.  This upset him and he tried to talk with her as to why he couldn't go to his room. She talked very mean and degrading to him and I felt helpless to defend him.

I told him that I loved him and that I never stopped loving him. I asked him if he remembered telling me that he couldn't tell the children the truth when he first made the accusations against Mark and me because, "he had gone too far and there was no turning back for him."  He said that he did. I told him that it was never too late and that I hoped he would tell Christi and Bobby the truth so that I could have my children back before he died. He kissed my hand again.

I asked him if he remembered what he told me when I was a little girl when I asked him if he really thought Jesus was real. He said that he did - but I reminded him anyway. I said you told me that you weren't sure if Jesus was real - but that you became a Christian just in case he was real - that Jesus was your safety net. He smiled me and again told me that he remembered. I went on and said, "Daddy, I want to assure you that Jesus is real and that He loves you and forgives you. I also love you and forgive you and that this is only possible because Jesus is real. I am here because Jesus is real." He kissed my hand and told me that he wanted to go with me.

Daddy kept looking at my hands and rubbing my hands. I finally said, "Daddy, I have your hands. I never realized that I had your hands." He smiled and said, "Yes, Debbie. You have my hands because you are my daughter." I replied, "Yes, you are right. I have your hands. But, I look like momma." He looked at my face and paused. Then he said, "Yes, you look like your momma."

However, as much as I longed to carry him out of this place and carry him to Georgia, I couldn't. I had to leave him. I told the nurse who had spoken so harshly with my father that I would be sending him cards and pictures and that I wanted him to get them. She snapped at me that all the patients got their mail. I walked down that hall and left my daddy. I couldn't look back. I got into our car - and wept.

I wrote the following note the day after I saw my father.  I had more time to digest the visit. I have to say that I don't think that I have cried with this much anguish since the kidnapping. This writing was in response to some dear ladies' prayers and encouragement.

July 23, 2013

Ladies, thank you for your prayers and love. I do need them. I was overwhelmed at my compassion toward him. I have preached sermons on forgiveness, written about it and taught on it. I always hoped and prayed that if I ever encountered him (and momma) again that I would certainly know with all that was within me that I had forgiven him.

When I saw him yesterday, and knew that he knew me.... I cannot describe my emotions, my feelings, but at that moment I knew. No longer does doubt hinder or linger in my heart. I know. I wanted to pick this frail man up and carry him out of that place. I didn't want to leave him. Christ in me. That verse became so alive. Instead of wanting to tell him all my sorrow... all the agony and pain and hopelessness that he and momma had bestowed upon me.... I just wanted to protect him.

That is the picture of Christ.... despite our sins... despite our lack of faith and times of rebellion... Christ simply loves us. He longs to take us under the shelter of his wings and protect us. We simply have to choose Him.

So, here we are at the end of my daddy's life. I would love to carry him to my home to a place prepared for him; however, I cannot because of his actions. 

Mark said something deep and profound... he said, "Debbie, maybe God has blessed your daddy by allowing him this dementia because now he is free from some of the guilt."

While I am unable to carry daddy home because of his choices... because of the lies he and mother told.... God is still able to redeem him. If God gives my father any clarity... true clarity... pray that it is for true repentance and acceptance of Christ. This would mean more to me than his speaking to Christi and Bobby. While I long to hold my children, I long more for my father's salvation. I know that while we had Christi and Bobby... they were taught of Christ. I know that they have in their hearts all of those Bible verses and passages that I memorized with them. I do not have this assurance about my daddy. You don't choose Christ as a safety net.... you choose Him because He is the only true Savior and Son of God.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Sadness can sometimes just creep into your life when least expecting it. All right, I admit that I have been pretty sad lately with Mark's momma being so ill and hearing that my father is in a nursing home, too. When you are estranged from your family, you discover news in unexpected ways. Tonight I found out (thanks internet) that my grandfather had died this past November. I found his obituary in the Tennessean. My heart is just aching. At least in this obituary - my family actually had my name put in as a surviving granddaughter. When my grandmother died a few years back - I wasn't included in that one.

Honestly, you would think that they wouldn't be able to hurt and wound me anymore - but alas, they do. I wish I knew how to stop caring about and loving people who hate you. There are days when my sorrow over my family just shreds at my soul. Thankfully, God has never left me alone to bear this burden. I admit there have been times when I felt like I was alone. Those days (weeks, months....) were horrible. Usually, those times occurred during hissy fits. Unfortunately, I have had hissy fits right in front of God. Since I was raised in the south, let me assure you that I know how to pitch an excellent hissy fit. Most southern women have mastered them. Mine actually start off rather quiet. Then, I proceed to slamming doors and objects. When that doesn't produce in me the needed result, I go to talking to God that quickly progresses to sobbing and throwing myself on my bed and burying my head in my pillow. Since I no longer produce tears due to Sjogren's disease - I desperately try not to have my crying fits because when I cry I about destroy my eyes with mucus, which dries on them and them, rips my cornea. Fun.

I admit, I would love to have a hissy-fit right about now. I would love to just cry and cry and then cry some more. Instead, I sit here with my heart about to break (into how many more pieces I do not know since it has already been grated) and a lump in my throat that is causing me pain when I try to breath.

However, since I know that I do not need to continue in this state, I am going to try and find comfort in the Word of God. I am going to try and trust Him and believe that He will and has fought and won this battle for me. Instead of screaming at Him, I think that I'll mediate on His Word and pray that His healing balm will comfort my soul.

Me, Grandma, and Papa on my wedding day - Dec., 1979

Mark and I were able to find my grandfather's grave when we were up in Tennessee to bury his sweet momma. We put the roses on their grave. I was able to tell them both good-bye and I laid on their grave in the wet grass and wept.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Hello there....

Wow! LONG, long time since I posted. In my defense, I have tried a couple of times to post using my Ipad and then it would not post and then disappeared somewhere in space....

This year is flying by all too quickly. I did a long term sub position teaching middle school math. I learned two things about myself. I like LOWER elementary grades so much better than middle school. And, I do not want to teach math all day again. :)

I am back at TLC CASA, Children's Services, Inc. I am training and recruiting volunteers and I love it. I will finish training my first group of volunteers tomorrow. I have so enjoyed working with this group. I believe that TLC is getting some great Court Appointed Special Advocates.

I am working on a second Master degree - an MRE. I have been enjoying these courses and I am learning so much. Liberty is a great seminary.

Mark is extremely busy - working, working, working....

Paul is finishing up his second year of college. I miss that young man more than words.

Michael has been looking for a job! He has done a few things here and there to earn a bit of an income but the man needs full-time employment. According to our president the economy is improving; however, my family would disagree.

We are all relatively healthy and feel blessed.

I hope to write soon and maybe supply a few photos fo my lovely crew!