Dear Readers

Today, I’d like to share with you a compelling letter I received in response to a column I wrote about a father who expelled his son from his home.

Dear Chaplain Norris,

My name is Bonnie and thirty-one years ago I fell in love with Darren — the son of the garbage man. My father preferred I not date a guy who was four years older, but Darren persisted. He saw me at work, at school, and at football games until a helpful little soul told my father and he ordered me to stop seeing Darren.

From that point, I was restricted from driving or riding in a car with friends. I was allowed only to go school, church, and my job at a drive-in restaurant – but no extra-curricular activities.

Knowing my father to be a “religious” man, Darren persuaded Father Murphy to reason with my parents. My father was livid! He ordered me to quit work and kept me grounded until I left for nursing school in the fall.

At my high school graduation, Darren proposed to me. My father responded to this joyous news by telling me that if I married Darren I’d no have no further contact with my family.

Despite this warning, we married on my eighteenth birthday and soon had a beautiful baby girl. We christened her Kelsey and asked Father Murphy to baptize her and marry us in a church wedding. For thirty years, our family blossomed as Darren and I worked our own business and put our daughter
through college.

Through the years, we made regular attempts to reconcile through cards or gifts, but they were returned unopened. So, we learned to live with my parent’s rejection, but never allowed it to color our lives. We tried to make our daughter understand that although my parents rejected us, we should never close the door of reconciliation — no matter how far-fetched it seemed.

However, despite our successes, I saw signs that our marriage was in trouble. Darren, like my father, had control issues that eventually brought about a separation. With divorce imminent, we went to a marriage counselor who confronted Darren with the reality of losing the woman he loved.

Darren, never a religious man, began to pray and as he explains it, “I prayed because I had reached a place in my life where I had nowhere to turn.” As he prayed, a peace settled in him like he’d never known.

His demeanor changed and a new Darren emerged that was caring, loving, and considerate. He asked me to attend church and, reluctantly, I went. At first, I was afraid it was just pretense, but, after three years, the old Darren is really gone.

After Darren’s epiphany, he renewed his concern for my father. He knew his father-in-law needed to find peace and let go of his bitterness. I agreed that we should do something, but what?

We began by sending holiday and birthday cards and were hopeful when the cards weren’t returned. Shortly after Father’s Day, my brother told me that our cards were well received. A few weeks later, my daughter announced that she was expecting a baby, so I sent another card telling my parents they would be great-grandparents.

In early October, a few days after my 51st birthday, I received my first birthday card from my parents since I’d turned 18! Amazing, 33 wasted years, and for what? I can’t see into another’s soul, so I really can’t imagine the depths of his bitterness, but it’s time it should end.

A few weeks ago, I sent my parents another card with more baby news which we are hoping will affect reconciliation. “Wouldn’t that be wonderful? They are in their mid-seventies, and no one lives forever. At least not here!

Thanks for listening,


Dear Bonnie,

Jesus told a parable of a rich fool who built large barns to store his riches. Jesus called the man a fool because that very night death would take away all his worldly possessions. He was a fool because he had no value for spiritual connections – either with his family or his creator.

You’re right Bonnie, no one lives forever. While we are residents in this life, our greatest treasure remains invested in those we love. My prayer is that your father will soon see the value of his treasures.

Chaplain Norris