Beauty from Ashes

As time never stands still, life went on after dad ran away from the hospital (Dad Takes Off), and unfortunately I went through the remainder of my teenage years getting in a lot of trouble (Enough Of This Whole School Thing).  I really can’t blame it on my dad leaving, and I really can’t blame it on my relationship with my mom.  I just made a lot of really bad choices.

However then I met my husband Gary (Round 2, Coming Up!), and as Gary and I settled into a wonderful married life in 1979, things started to feel a lot more normal.  Not that I had forgotten dad by any means, but since I hadn’t heard anything about him for over 10 years, I just had gotten on with my life.

beautiful-in-his-timeThen one day in March of 1985 mother received a phone call from one of dad’s brothers in Newton, Iowa.  They had hired a private investigator to try and locate us, and now that they found us they were planning a trip to Washington State!

Of course since my sister and I were both real young when we had moved from Newton (Dad), we really had no memory of just who this uncle and aunt were.

Although I cannot remember all the specifics, we had an absolutely marvelous time with them when they arrived, although we were heartbroken about what we heard about dad.

I’m so thankful for the newfound relationships that have been formed with some of my cousins in Iowa since I started writing this series on my blog, because they have helped fill in so many missing pieces – one of my cousins was even thoughtful enough to send me the below picture with my dad towards the end of his life.

It seemed that dad was certainly cognizant enough to have remembered his brother and sisters, so he took the bus from California to Iowa to visit with them for 2-3 weeks.  He then went back to the Salvation Army in California where he had a job.

The Salvation Army had helped him get his veteran’s pension so he had never been without food or shelter, and we were very thankful for that.

After living back in California for a time he finally ended up moving back to Newton, and his family there helped him find an apartment in town.  He would walk back and forth from his little apartment to his brother’s house where he had been given space to have his own garden, as it appeared he had really taken to gardening and cooking.

From what I can recall, one day some members of his family went to his home to check on him and found that he had died peacefully – I can’t remember if it was a stroke or heart attack.  I was also told by one of my aunts through a letter that while living back in Iowa he refused to take his medication, so often he acted very paranoid, although eventually he was able to go to the stores around town by himself.

jasper-and-family

Dad – 4th from the left

They also discovered that he had received a good-sized check that he had not yet cashed, and that prompted them to hire the private investigator to try and find us as they felt that my sister and I should have that money upon his death.

When he died his siblings took care of a memorial service for him and he was buried at his mom and dad’s gravesite.  My sister and I will never forget their kindness and love towards him…

Writing about these events pertaining to dad have been hard in so many ways, but I’m reminded of Isaiah 61:3 (NIV):

[For the brokenhearted God will] bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

You see, through this set of circumstances, our gracious Lord brought us back together with some wonderful aunts, uncles and cousins!  A family reunited through a kind-hearted loving brother of my dad who knew in his heart that he needed to track down dad’s estranged family and let them know what had happened.

Plus I really believe in my heart that someday when I get to heaven I will see my dad again, and come to think of it, he’s up there right now with our precious 2 boys!

God’s ways are sometimes very mysterious, yet they are always good…

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