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 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.
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.
July 23, 2013
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.