When Daddy Quits

“Mommy, why are you crying?” I urged, while my mother, younger sister and brother and I vacationed with my grandmother in North Carolina. Hot and humid in NC, I discovered, at age nine, that I would not be returning to our milder summer at my Ohio home.

Daddy clinched the deal on his first movie in Hollywood, and he was backing out of his marriage. Why? When? Three months later, in spite of my mother’s pleas, my parents’ divorced. To this day, I never revisited my Ohio home. I never bid my friends goodbye. I never experienced life with my Dad in the home again.

Residing “next door” to my grandmother and “around the corner” from every relative (exaggerating) on my mother’s side of my family rewarded blessings…and stories! My bantam hometown remains a hamlet, even titled Hamlet. I specialized in the simple life there. Today, I consider that specialty a jewel in my treasure chest…choosing to live simply.

Daddy propagated

During those days, Daddy propagated wrong choices. He married two more times, and adopted the three sons of his third wife. All the while, he did not remit child support for the three of us, his biological children. In fact, 17.5 years elapsed without paying support to my mother. Daddy telephoned. The years offered empty statements and unfulfilled promises.

Inevitably, the unpaid child support bill swelled such that my father appropriated the unofficial number one “deadbeat dad” title in the state of NC. “Unofficial” due to the fact that all three of us reached adulthood. NC “cracked down” on deadbeat dads.

deadbeat dad

A successful author of military and western paperbacks, a guest on mainstream news shows, a speaker, a Karate Hall of Fame inductee, Vietnam Green Beret vet, and even “knighted,” my dad forfeited the opportunity to enter NC without arrest. Eventually, Daddy paid.

After our move to NC, my mother taught business (at a prison, my high school, and our community college.) She labored tough. Daughter of the mayor, working in her family’s grocery store, president of her class, and home-coming queen at Hamlet, my mother receded home broken. She fought for the remains of family. She maintained two and three teaching jobs. She kept us in church, and she wasn’t afraid to tell three teens “no.” She lived within her means. She never remarried. She was faithful. Of course, mom made mistakes as every parent does, but she placed her children above herself. She placed the Lord above all.

Other family members intervened and bore the burden, in many ways, for my father’s choices. They did what Jesus required.

Still, the weight of parenting and the brunt of provision fell upon my mother. My widowed grandmother contributed much.

Daddy quit. Daddy left. We couldn’t change it.

But I share the good news! I have a Father…One who will never leave, One who never quits, One who sent His Son to die for me, One who loves me with an everlasting love. Daddy quit, but God did not.

For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”Hebrews 13:5

God has not quit in your life either. Whatever your situation, if you are like me, and your daddy left, maybe not physically, but emotionally, God can fill you with His love, and He wants you to receive His Fatherhood. He is a perfect parent. If you are a mother, raising your children alone in Christ, your Heavenly Father parents your children and He honors the heart cry prayers of a mother. God will strengthen you to remain faithful. If you are in between and the Daddy in your family is on the run, stay “weak” at the feet of Jesus. As you depend on Him, He will show Himself strong in you. God never leaves. Jesus never quits.

Jesus never quits

Twenty years later, I met my dad face-to-face. My father now professes a relationship with Christ, and was baptized in the Colorado River near his residence. Prior to this, the Lord granted me forgiveness toward my dad, just as Christ forgave me. My father is married to Shirley, for thirty years now. Shirley currently battles leukemia. Consequences to those years of rebellion remain. Christ continues to work in this situation. If the Lord leads you to do so, please pray for Shirley and my dad. I am honored He dedicated his latest book, Strongheart, to me. I desire that he dedicate his next books to my siblings.