(Published Jan. 26, 2007, 9:38 a.m.)
Send your donation to: The Time Is Now to Help, PO Box 70, Pell Lake, WI 53157.
Editor's Note: The following is a letter to The Time Is Now, a private charity serving Walworth County. The founder, who knew poverty as a child, now provides help for those in need. Every penny donated goes to the needy for daily necessities of life. Donors will receive a tax-deductible itemized receipt showing exactly where every penny was spent. We'll publish a letter most weeks.
I was wondering if you could help my elderly father. He lives in your area and I am very worried about his wellbeing.
I have been living in Illinois with my husband for many years. When we got married I moved here with him to be close to his job.
A few years ago I returned to Wisconsin for my mother's funeral. My father and I used to be close but when my brother was killed in a car accident my father became very despondent. The only one who could reach him was my mother. Since my mother has passed away, my father has not had a telephone. It has been disconnected for about a year. When it was connected our conversations were very short and I did most of the talking. I have heard that he lost his house and that he is living in a rental unit. I care for my father very much and I am very worried about him. I have written him a letter hoping it would have been forwarded to the place where he is staying, but instead the letter just came back to me. I was wondering if there is any way you could please check in on him. I do have the local newspaper sent to me and I read your column all the time. I was hoping that this might be something you could help me with. We're very concerned about him.
A worried daughter
D ear Readers:
It took me a while to locate the father since he had changed apartments. When I first met him he was very quiet and did not have much to say, but it was apparent he desperately needed help.
Together we helped him get on his feet, even though in the beginning his pride made him reluctant to accept any help. I convinced him through our mutual belief in our Lord. I could see he was opening up more and more.
I finally had the opportunity to talk to him about his wife. This man loved his wife so much he could not understand why he was still alive without her. His life had revolved completely around her. Then we began to talk about his son and once again it was obvious that he had a very strong love for his son. He told me the only thing that kept him alive at that time was the love for his wife. He said his heart was so broken and still is.
When I asked him about his daughter he looked down and appeared as though he did not want to talk.
"She left us when we needed her," he said in a whisper.
I asked what kind of man his daughter had married. Once again there was no answer. As he still looked down I began telling him about some of the poor choices many women have unknowingly made in choosing a spouse. Men have abandoned their wives, become alcoholics or have become abusive and beat their wives.
At that moment he looked up at me and said, "No, this man would never hit my daughter!"
I had talked to the daughter in between meetings with her father and she asked if he was ready to meet. I assured her that he was ready but asked that she allow us to get to the bottom of what was troubling her father first. I had asked her about her husband and she reassured me that he was a wonderful caring man who took care of her and their two children-a boy and a girl.
She told me about some of her hobbies, including how her mom taught her to bake bread and how she would bake bread for the family. Also the family would often plan a day to have special time together. This is good advice for all of us. She told me how the family time included prayers and thanking the Lord for their blessings.
"Are you sure you know this man?" I asked the father. "What if he has changed? What if he is abusing your daughter? What if he's abusing your grandchildren?"
He looked at me and asked if I knew something he didn't know.
"When was the last time you talked to your daughter?" I asked him.
"It has been many years," he said.
"Why?" I asked.
"Answer me first," he said. "Do you know something that I don't know?"
"Yes, I do," I said. "I know quite a bit about what is going on. That is why I am asking you if you know for certain he is not hurting and abusing your daughter."
I had his attention as he sat straight up and looked very stern. I could tell I struck a chord. I said now that I had answered his question I wanted him to answer a few of mine or else I would not talk to him any more about his daughter.
"Do you promise to answer my questions?" I asked.
"What do you want to know?" he asked.
"How come you stopped talking to your daughter?"
He started to look down but then looked up.
"Is my daughter OK?"
I told him he needed to answer my questions first. I reminded him that he had promised and asked again why he didn't talk to his daughter.
"Well, my daughter got married and moved away," he said.
I asked him if her husband had a good job and he replied that he had a decent job.
"Is he providing for your daughter?"
"Oh yes!" he responded.
I asked him what his wife had thought of her son-in-law and he responded that she was very proud her daughter had picked a good man.
"Is he still a good man?" he asked.
"Wait a minute," I said. "You only partially answered my question."
I asked him again how his wife felt about his daughter's husband and he said that she thought he was a wonderful man. She would thank God that he was a good provider and she could tell how much he loved their daughter.
I asked if his wife had a good sense about people, and he said, "Oh yes, she did," with a smile on his face.
I asked if she was distraught when their daughter moved away and he said that she was, but that he was even more upset, especially after losing their son.
His wife had told him that it was better their daughter move with her husband, close to his job, and know she was being taken care of.
I asked him how much he loved his son.
"With all my heart," he replied.
"Did you have some of your heart left for your wife and your daughter?"
"Oh yes, yes!"
"So let me get this straight," I said. "You loved your wife completely."
He vehemently nodded his head in agreement.
"You loved your son, your gift from God."
He said, yes he did.
I could see then that he was calming down as he was remembering his son.
"How about your other gift from God?" I asked before he started to cry. "Do you love your daughter? Do you love your wife's daughter?"
"Yes, I love my daughter, my wife's daughter."
I asked him if he thought he was doing the right thing by not talking to her. Did he think that his wife and son would want him to be talking with her? He looked up at me with tears in his eyes. I said that he had just given the answer. He broke down into tears.
"Now please answer me. What is my son-in-law doing to my daughter?"
I said that his son-in-law loved his daughter, was taking care of her and consoling her sorrow and tears because her father wasn't talking to her.
"Oh, what have I done!" he said, and began to cry.
I told him that he had withdrawn and that he'd lost his son and his wife but he had not lost his daughter-she was still there. I assured him that he had the opportunity to get together with her, talk about her life and reminisce about his loving wife and son.
He asked how he could do that and said that he was so ashamed. I told him that his daughter and son-in-law said no matter when I talked to him, if he wanted to see them they would drop everything and come right up.
"They still love me that much after all the time I have ignored them?" he asked.
I assured him they did.
With that I called the daughter and in a little over an hour they were both standing before her father with tears in their eyes, as the daughter and son-in-law simultaneously reached out and hugged him. The father cried and leaned in their arms like a child. Since then they have been seeing each other every weekend.
Together we helped this elderly man to pull himself together financially and helped him to reunite with his family.
I received letters from all three of them thanking us for bringing their family back together again and for what we did to help the father get back on his feet.
Health and happiness,
God bless everyone,
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