Happy Father’s day! Many of you that know my past, know I didn’t have the best example of a father growing up. Today I wanted to share a story from my book about our difficult childhood. Not to feel sorry for us, but to see how God can bring us OUT of hardship, replace lost love, and even bless us for our troubles. In Isaiah 61:7 God promises us “double” for our former shame. I didn’t have a biological father that treated me right but God did give me TWO fathers later in life that helped me regain trust in men and changed my life forever. Below is an excerpt from my book that I hope you enjoy!
Because we have a lifetime of “material” my sister and I didn’t know where to start so we thought the best description would be a “day in the life’ for his two daughters. A typical Saturday for his two girls ages 8 and 11 went a little something like this..…
According to our father sleep was for the lazy, so as soon as the sun rose we would be awoken by our window shades being pulled up and his command for us to “rise and shine”. Sounds nice enough doesn’t it? But “rise and shine” meant get outside and start working on the yard and NO phone calls, NO bathroom breaks, and NO breakfast until the job is done! Our land consisted of ½ acre but it felt like a ranch to us after moving to upstate New York from the Bronx. Understandably this yard meant a lot to our father who was a city person his whole life, living in apartments and working in high rises, but deep down he was born to be outside. Our father’s “passion” for his land translated into hours of US girls raking, pulling, mowing, trimming, moving dirt and rocks from one place to another and then there was the dreaded “barrel pull”. Hours worth of raked leaves would have to go SOMEWHERE so he would have us place them in a plastic barrel (almost as tall as we were) and dispose of them in the woods (AKA our neighbor’s property).
Being new to the neighborhood, and coming from the Bronx with our funny accents, and not to mention we were children of a father that seemed a little crazy, did not make us popular. The barrel pull only added to our reputation. While all the other “normal” kids rode their bikes and roller skates up and down the street, we walked the barrel uphill 200 yards as the kids chanted “look at them, all they do is work work work”. Our father, not wanting to be left out, would add to the dialogue by standing at the bottom of the street yelling for us to “pick up the pace”! For unknown reasons, our father called us “Charlie” and not in an endearing way. He would say, “you’re really asking for it Charlie” or “stop dragging it, if that barrel gets a hole in the bottom of it I’ll cripple you”. My sister and I would both say to each other “he’s talking to you Charlie”. Did this experience grow discord amongst my sister and I? Of course it did! My sister Christine’s recollection, “after a couple hours into our day my sister would experience the beginnings of an asthma attack. I hate to admit this and now feel guilty about it, but I hated her for it. The asthma attack meant that she could possibly convince my parents that she needed to stop working and I’d be out there on my own for twice as long. I thought she faked it. Now looking back she went from the allergy ridden outdoors into the mold infested indoors that started her journey of chronic illness”.
While we were outside working, our father loomed large over us either working alongside us or watching us from a window. His approval of our work, technique, or general being was never positive. He watched us with disgust, while lashing verbal insults regarding how lazy we were, how we were holding the rake incorrectly, and of course, how stupid we were because he had showed us how to hold it correctly hundreds of times before. eventually, and without fail, he would rip the rake out of our hands and demand that we watch another stellar performance of Dad raking like a gold medalist. We watched and thought to ourselves, he’s raking the exact same way we’ve been raking! We could see the vein in his forehead bulging, we could hear the disdain and anger in his tone, and we felt the shame that went along with just not being good enough.
Once done working, you started to plan your opportunity to bathe. Our father felt bathing was a luxury not a necessity. We would check the windows to see where he was in the yard, turn on the bath and walk from window to window to keep an eye on him. If you lost site of him, you needed to turn off the water immediately until you could safely locate him outside. Our baths could only be a few inches deep. If caught and you were found to have more than a few inches of water, this would bring on a tirade and a heavy dose of sarcasm. “Who do you think you are, the Queen of Sheba?” I didn’t know who the Queen os Sheba was, but if she was allowed to fill her bathtub with more than a few inches of watch and bathe undisturbed, I knew I wanted to be her!
Now that we are adults with our own children our former childhood rules seemed harsh, nonsensical and often strange. Other rules included no daytime television, no aimless sitting or reclining in any way unless it is bedtime, no laughing, no talking loudly, no making noise as you walked up the stairs. Also, bedroom doors had to be open at all times, no opening or closing windows. Period! There were also rules for knocking and ringing the door bell which we never seemed to get right, but each one of our rules has a wonderfully rich and funny story. Every time we siblings get together, we reminisce and find ourselves in bouts of laughter.
On rare occasions our father would get a stroke of conscience. He was unable to show us affection so his awkward attempt was to throw sour ball candy at the back of our heads as some sort of apology or possibly it was his way of extending some sort of olive-sour ball branch. I know our childhood sounded tough, and at times it was, but for all the pain there were positives that shaped us, and for that we are grateful to our father. Our father had such a strong sense of responsibility and we learned from him or perhaps mimicked him in several areas. We all have a tremendous work ethic. I don’t remember one day my father called in sick to work and my sister and I follow suit. We have learned the value of money. Nothing came for free in our house. Everything had to be earned, worked, and saved for. Our bizarre childhood also gave us a wonderful opportunity to create and sharpen our sense of humor.
I’m sure most of us have something to be grateful to our fathers for. Now it’s time to celebrate your father no matter what type of father you had or have. Let’s celebrate and make some muffins.
I want to thank my sister Christine for helping me write this. I couldn’t have done it without her and her wicked sense of humor! I also want to thank her for all the extra hard work she had to do in my place when we were kids. To the fatherless – God loves you and will fill that hole you may have in your heart. Isaiah 61:7
If you suffer from Chronic Fatigue, Sinus Infections, Fibromyalgia, Food Allergies, Auto Immune Disease, Acid Reflux, Candida, Depression – this book is for you.
I have been fortunate to be featured on national Television including PBS American Health Journal, Know the Cause, CTN, ABC, NBC, CBS and more. I was sick for decades, endured many surgeries, took over 100 courses of antibiotics, and then I changed everything and everything changed. My book Eat Pray Get Well is about overcoming a tumultuous childhood, decades of chronic illness, and finding God in the process. Includes exclusive interviews with renowned Cardiologist Dr. Stephen Sinatra, Supermodel Carol Alt, Doug Kaufmann, and many more. Plus 55 gluten free recipes woven throughout.