A Journey Home
by: Dale C. Crow
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Before I can start my journey home I must tell you about from where I
have come. I am a product of a broken home. Yes that is 60's lingo for
divorced home. I always hated that phrase it sounds like some one
dropped the home and broke it. I digress before I start.
I was the younger of two sons. My brother and I were and I guess still
are 6 years apart.
Ours was a lower middle class family. My father was a hard worker and
a very strict disciplinarian. My mother was a very strong woman and
she was a house wife up until I was 9. My brother was an athletic
superstar. It was clear to me at an early age I was not! It was also
obvious that I was not much of a student either.
My father was caught up in getting my brother up to speed in baseball,
football and did not have much time for me growing up. My father was a
little on the physically abusive side as he would beat my brother and
myself more than he should. For me the word stupid would all but
become my middle name. I found myself on the short end of my fathers
love and attention and on the wrong end of his belt and verbal
beatings as well.
When we moved to the city, my mother got a job with the local paper.
Things looked like they were going well. We were able to buy a nice
house as my mother's job along with my father's civil service job
moved us toward the top of the middle class ladder.
I remember when the big problems started. It was when I came in the
house and saw my parents drinking beer. This was the first time I knew
of them drinking. I was shocked. I was 9 years old at the time. Then
the Mardi Gras balls and parties came. As my parents started to climb the social
ladder they also had to climb a party ladder as well. They started
coming home drunk and began fighting at night. The fighting got worse
and worse. Then the hitting started.
I would end up picking up my drunken naked mother off the floor after
my father had beaten her. As a teenager I was not able to take some
one home unless I called first to see if they were drunk or drinking. I also
remember one Christmas day that my mother fell and broke her two
front teeth. The physical abuse toward my brother and me got worse.
I remember a time when my father threw my brother through a wall after
hitting him with a closed fist. I remember one beating I got where my
ears were bleeding. My mother would jump in and pull my father off of
us but that would only put her in the line of fire. Many nights I
would cry myself to sleep. No one knew my hurt. No one knew my pain
and no one knew the secrets .
When I was 15 my parents divorced. What bad timing. My brother had
moved out and it was just me and my mother. I remember my father
trying to get me to live with him. I knew I had to eat and I knew my
mother would protect me so I went with my mother. My father was not a
happy camper. A year after the divorce my mother remarried. By this
time I was in the High School Band and I was now doing ok in school.
The two things that helped me through it all were, the church and
band. I was good at band and it helped me think better of myself and
the church gave me the love I needed with out all of the strings
attached. The church was my safe house, my sanctuary. The kids
are the people really hurt in divorce. They are placed in the middle
and are used against the other parent in fits of rage.
My father dropped out of my life after the divorce. When I did see him
it would not take long before he started in on me with "why don't you
live with me?" and how bad of person my mother was. By the time I was
in high school I had no real contact with my father.
When I was in my twenties I reconciled the relationship with my
father. This happened around the time I got married. It lasted about 5
years during which time I would get the same old stuff. He would drink
way too much and then start in on me "Why do you go see your mother
but you do not come over her to see me?"
At this time my father lived 60 miles out of the way and the trip was
getting longer with each trip and with each verbally beating. I had grown
up in an alcoholic family and did not want a repeat of it! My father
had remarried and he wanted me to fall in to his family but he just
did not understand that I had a family of my own that I was making a
life of my own.
In 1988 my wife and I went on a mission trip to Costa Rica. We had a
youth house sit for us. My father in a drunken rage called the house
and left an ugly and nasty message on the answering machine. When we
got back the house sitter said you have a message on your machine you
should listen to. I had never been so hurt in my life.
I wrote my father a letter telling him how I felt about the years of
abuse and how I was no longer going to take it. I told him I would no
longer be able to go to his house if he was going to drink when I was
there. I told him in that letter that I wanted a relationship with him
but he would need to apologize to me and to my wife. At that point we
could start over and not bring up the past. Other than one or two
emails he sent me in 2003 that was the last contact we had until March
Over the past 15 years I have had to put my relationship with my
father out of my mind. I knew that I wanted a relationship with my
father but it was not up to me. I tried to right the relationship in
1988 but my father rejected my offer and I was cut out of his life.
The old joke that my parents moved and forgot to tell me where they
moved to actually happened to me. My father and his new wife moved to
Arkansas some time after 1988. I knew the name of the town but that
put my father 10 hours away. Now though, location was not what was
keeping us apart.
I am not sure how to tell you what that does to a man to have his
father disown him. Funny thing is, often abused kids crave the
approval of the abusive parent. In my life, I had never heard my
father tell me he was proud of me. I was first chair in the band and
was solo trumpet in high school and would cry at night knowing that my
father never saw me play solo. I longed for a relationship of my
father but could no longer take the abuse that came with it. As an
adult I refused to be the victim any longer.
My brother kept up a relationship with my father over the years. The
first of 2004 my brother told me that my father was really sick. I
told him that if he wanted to talk with me that he could call me or
email me and ask me to come up.
My father has always been sick in some way. Some of it real and some
was not so real. He used this often to manipulate us.
Over the last 15 years I had to separate myself from the hurt just to
survive. I was a part time youth pastor and was able to use my
hardships for God's glory. Even with putting the bad times out of my
mind I often felt the hurt. But I was armed with the knowledge that I
was the one that had tried to rekindle the relationship but was
rejected. At this point "it was not my problem"! This was how it had
to be to stay mentally healthy.
In Feb. 2004 my brother called and told me that my father was terminal
with alcoholic liver disease. I responded to my brother that my father
had been dead to me for 15 years. On March the 11th my brother
contacted me and told me that my father wanted to talk with me and
that he was doing very bad. In looking back at my reluctance in going
I now understand some what. We get familiar with our pain and are
scared of the unknown. Sometimes pain becomes a confidante. That is
why battered wives have a hard time leaving their abusive husbands.
I drove up the 10 hours to Arkansas. I got to his nursing home room at
4 PM on a Sat. I had no idea what I was going to say or what he was
going to say. All I know was that if he asked for me to come I owed
him that as my father. When I went in to the room he was asleep. I
stood over him for about 5 minutes. I was searching for the words to
say. This was not the same man I last saw 15 years ago. He was much
older looking as the years of alcohol and pain medicines had taken
their toll on his body. He was a small yellowish man now.
I cleared my throat but that did not wake him. I then shook him and
asked him if he was going to sleep all day? He opened his eyes and
then closed them. I said Daddy, and he opened them again. He said
"you're my 2nd son" as kind of a question. I said yes, I am your 2nd
son. That in its self cut deep as I was always the 2nd. I was always
number 2 in my fathers life! I asked him if he knew my name. He said my name and started to
cry. He told me that he was sorry for all of the things he had done.
He asked me to forgive him for all of the things he had done to me. We
hugged and cried for some time.
He then started to go down the things. He told me that he was sorry
for whipping me the way he did. He said it was too hard and that he
was too ruff on me. He then told me that he loved me that he knows he
did not give me the time I should have had as a child. He said he was
sorry for the last 15 years and that it was his entire fault. I told
him that it is all in the past now. He said over and over "So many
wasted years." I told him we can start new now.
We talked more after the first wave of crying ended and he started to
tell me things I had no idea of. He told me that he saw many of my
band performances as he would work all day and beat it back to see me
on Friday night to see me play solo. He then told me that he was so
proud of me. This was what I wanted to hear all my life. My father
told me he was proud of me. I told him that I looked for his approval
all my life. He turned to me and said "You got it".
I told him that I never knew he saw me perform. I asked him why he did
not let me know he was there. He told me that he did not want to
interfere. He said it had gotten back to him that my stepfather was a
better father than he was so he dropped out of my life. He told me
that he was a failure and that he was sorry for failing me. I spent
the rest of the night talking about the good things I remembered
growing up. I had to admit to him that I had large gaps in my memories
as a child. He apologized again for how hard he was on me.
He then asked for me to pray for him. I told him I would and then he
asked for me to pray for his sins. I asked what he was talking about
and he said I want to make sure my sins are forgiven. I then took his
old yellow hand and started to pray for forgiveness. I asked God to
take away my daddy's sins and make him whole and remember his sins no
more. We cried more and told me that he was going to go to heaven. I
told him that my brother and I had wondered about that and I was glad
that he will be in heaven with us. What an ending of the night! I was
spent, and was about to drop. After driving all day to receive such a
blessing I was blown away. I kissed him goodnight and went to the
The next day I stayed till noon. He was doing better but he was still
emotional. Every staff person that came in his room he would tell them
about seeing me play solo in the band and tell them how proud he was
of me. We spent the rest of the day remembering things we shared and
just say holding hands. He only wanted me to feed him and to take him
to the bathroom. I was finally home. I was in my father's heart. He
wanted to be with me and loved me and was proud of me. What more could
a son ask for? Well other than time. I would stop him when he started
with the time lost. I told him we had to take what was given us.
We often see God in the same eyes as we see our earthly fathers. For
years I have worked and worked for my Heavenly Father to gain his
approval and to make him proud of me. My heart longed to hear the
words "Well done, my good servant!" what I did not understand is, I
got it! I have always had my Fathers' approval. Both Fathers!
Thank God that he has let me see that I also had my earthly fathers'
approval as well. I don't know how all this will affect in my life. I
feel a peace that I have never known. I also have a sense of loss. The
lost time with my father but we can't afford to look back now!
The fact that God allowed me to know that my father was proud of me
and then letting me lead my father in prayer to secure his salvation
was a gift that makes the lost years fade. Life is too short to spend
it looking back. What a homecoming we will have in heaven!
Sunday, March 21, 2004 at 2:05 PM my father went to be with the
Lord. My brother was with him and that morning he called before we
went to church. Daddy wanted to talk to me and wanted me to pray for
him. He had my brother pray for him and my sister-in-law pray for him
so I guess you would say it was a prayer chain. About 1:30 Kenny
called and said that it would not be long. He put me on speaker phone
and I told Daddy that I loved him and I wished I was there. He said he
understood and said he loved me. I told him we had a good visit and he
said it was wonderful. This would be the last words I would ever hear
my father say to me. I let my wife talk to him and my two girls.
Everyone had a chance to say they loved him. At 2:05 PM my
sister-in-law called and said that daddy has gone home.
Our time together was a wonderful blessing that God gave both of us.
Never in my life have I seen such a change in a person. My father had
changed into a sweet loving person. His whole being had changed. I am
glad that I was able to have the short time with him. I will never
forget the three days we had together. Those three days we were father
and son. This was truly Gods time. God prepared this time for me and
my father to come together.
Before the funeral my brother placed his Bible under Daddy's right
hand and I placed a copy of this story and the photo of our
reconciliation under his left hand. That seemed the thing to do as
that was two big things that happened in his life at the end.
The funeral was just a simple grave side as Daddy requested. It
was one of the best funerals I have been to. I know that sounds odd,
but you've got to understand that I know where my Daddy is and it is
not in his beautiful casket. The young preacher did a very good job in
summing up my fathers life. He asked if any one had something to say
and you all know me, I could not pass that up. I added that
Daddy and I were at odds for many years but God allowed us to
reconcile the relationship and we had three wonderful days together. I
would remember those three days as long as I lived. I added that
there was no doubt where Daddy was now.
Daddy's last days were spent seeking God and asking for forgiveness.
Daddy is with my Father now! No questions in my mind. My
father taught me how to humble one's self, how to seek God and how to
die. What a good father I had.
All glory be to God.
Here are some photos of My father and of our reconciliation. Click on
the photos for a better view.
The faces of reconciliation!
Wonderful Visit! God's Gift To Us!
Cleve K. Crow Sr.
12-26-1935 to 03-21-2004
My wife also wrote a journal of the reunion. It is the same story
but from her eyes. Click here for it.