Mistoe is the nickname that my father’s siblings gave to him. I always imagined it being a combination of “Mister” and the family name, Lowe. All of them put him on a pedestal. He was the oldest son of 11 children and must have been quite a big brother to them to receive such a term of endearment and respect.
Sometimes a thought will occur to me, out of the blue. A scene from childhood that involved him sadly loving me. Loving actions that I can only appreciate now. I will usually take time to savor the thought, fill up my heart with what I wish could have been, and then leave it with God for another day.
Example: Dad taking us camping at the “duck beach,” a local bird refuge. When it was his custody weekend, he would drive up from Los Angeles. He didn’t have money for a hotel room, so we went “camping” and slept in his car. I remember waking up during one of those nights at the refuge and seeing the eerie image of a policeman’s face. He was banging on the window and telling us we had to “move along.”
That’s an odd example, but it might make you understand why I describe his actions as sadly loving me. He couldn’t give us anything but himself. Even that wasn’t very much, and I resented him for it then.
For the next 20 years of my life, I blamed Dad for all that went wrong during my childhood years and beyond. That changed after I began a new life with God. But the last days of his life revealed much to me that only a man on his death bed could have the courage to give. My father couldn’t speak the last two years of his life. His voice box was removed due to the cancer. But he wrote with his hand and he spoke with his eyes. And he told me, as our hearts met for a few hours on the weekend before he died, that he loved me and that he had tried.
I will never forget his sad yet loving expression that spoke in the silence of his bedroom. “Forgive me, Dee Dee. I tried.”
I treasure these thoughts of his unspoken words and what I now know to be true.