This is Camille’s Story, shared below, and written in her own words. She tells of her childhood growing up without her father, finally meeting her father, and the struggles that led to as she realized who and what he was. Her story of her father’s life is hard and tragic, but she ends with forgiveness in the most beautiful way. Forgiveness is hard. Very hard. I hope you’re as encouraged by her story as I was. Read on…
Shared from the Original Source: The Bio-Dad — The Chapters of Camille
Born in the early 60’s to a sixteen-year old, young man and a seventeen-year old, young lady, I was born into what I call a generational curse. My mother grew up on a farm in a home where daily abuse took place, (that will be another chapter). I don’t know a lot about how my biological father grew up, just that his childhood was not as bad as my mother’s. Throughout, I may refer to him as my bio-dad because, in all reality, all he was to me was a biological father.
My mother and bio-dad fell in love with each other in high school. Now, looking back, I am sure my mother realizes that it was just young, ‘puppy love’. From old pictures I have seen of them, they were both very good looking. Bio-dad actually looked a lot like Elvis. No kidding. He was tall, dark, and handsome. My mother was a very mature young lady for her age, and she was gorgeous.
My understanding has always been that my mother married bio-dad to escape her abusive home. They married when she was sixteen, and I believe he was just fifteen (almost 16). Within a year of their marriage, when mom was seventeen, I was born. From photos I have seen, I was a cute baby with chubby cheeks and snow white peach fuzz on top of my head.
As the story goes, when I was eighteen months old, my bio-dad went to prison. I did not learn this until I was around nine-years old. My mother remarried when I was four, and as far back as I can remember I thought the man she married was my father. One day, a cousin told me that I was adopted by the man whom I had always thought was my father. That disclosure led me, a nine-year old, to an inquisitive conversation with my parents. Cautiously, my parents told me that my biological father had been in prison since I was a baby. They told me that he did a bad thing, but they did not tell me what he did. My mother told me that she had not told me this because she did not want me to think I was a bad seed. She didn’t want me to think that my father’s sins would effect my future or that I was in any way like him.
I have very vivid memories of my adopted father sitting me on the kitchen counter to explain why he adopted me. He looked me straight in the eyes and told me that he wanted to be my father and that he loved me as if I were his own. At only nine-years old, those explanations were good enough for me. I remember saying, “okay,” and then I just went on playing with my cousins and friends. Surely, at the time I did not realize the implications of this truth.
Later in my teen years, I came to learn that what my father had been convicted of was a horrific crime. He was convicted of rape and sentenced to twenty-years in prison. He was only seventeen. Because of this, my mother filed for divorce. A few years later she met the man that would become her husband and my new father. To protect me, she separated me from my bio-dad’s family.
When I was eighteen years old, I received a phone call from a mysterious man. A few minutes into the call I learned that it was my bio-dad! After serving a little over seventeen years, he was paroled from prison. He was then thirty-four, and so he basically grew up in prison.
That phone call was most uncomfortable. Previous to that, I had no desire to meet him or know anything else about him. Actually, I just never thought about the day when he would be released from prison, and I went on through my childhood not giving him another thought. Perhaps, I had blocked him out of my mind. After the disclosure when I was nine, we just never spoke of it again.
A week after his phone call, I was getting ready to go to a pub with my boyfriend and received a call from a friend who worked at that pub. She told me there was a stranger, a man, sitting at the bar asking questions about me. Immediately, I had the notion that it was my bio-dad. Once my boyfriend and I arrived at the pub, I spotted the man right away. I knew who he was, but for a while he pretended he didn’t know me. As my date and I went into the back room to shoot pool, the man followed us. He asked if he could join our game. We agreed and began to play. About an hour into the game, he asked me if I knew who he was and I told him that I did. Sure, it was very uncomfortable and weird for me. The rest of the evening went pretty well. We talked very little about our circumstances. We just shot pool and talked about things in general.
For a couple of days we talked on the phone and he showed up at my apartment unannounced a couple of times. He made me very nervous, gut instincts I guess. It did not take me long to figure out that he was a drug addict. Because he was offering me pills that I knew could harm me, I threw him out of my life again. It was another eight years before I heard from him.
During those eight years he had married a woman who was only a few years my elder. They had two children, a boy and a girl. I always believe that everyone deserves a second chance. I allowed him back into my life and took some time to get to know him. During those eight years of his absence, I had also married and had two children. For the next year and a half, we spent some occasional time together getting to know each other and bringing our children and spouses together here and there. I actually started to like the bio-dad (somewhat). There were still things about him that I was not very proud of, but I have always been one to look past others imperfections. Bio-dad was still an addict; But, because I understand the disease of addiction, I overlooked that issue for a while. I was also aware of the fact that he pretty much grew up in prison, and sadly, came out of prison a drug addict. Yes, that is true. He started using drugs while in prison.
After almost two years of slowly getting to know bio-dad and going to his hometown to visit, I received some news that was devastating to me. It was like a huge slap in my face. Again, he was arrested, convicted and sent to prison for a similar crime as before. This time, he was convicted of attempted rape and conspiracy to commit murder. The story told to me was that a man, who knew his history and knew about his drug addictions, enlisted him to go to a town in Georgia to break into his ex-wife’s house. The plan was for bio-dad to break in, rape and kill her. The man who hired him said that if he made the murder look like a rape, that would take suspicion off of him. Bio-dad was to be paid a lot of money to commit this crime.
As the story was told to me, he did go over there and did break into her house, he attempted to rape her, and then when it came time to kill her he backed out. He told me that he just couldn’t do it and so he told her about the plan that her ex-husband had hired him to execute. She sent him on his way to a bar down the street and told him everything was fine and said she would meet him there to talk about it. Instead of her showing up, the police showed up. They arrested him. He went to jail and eventually to trial. He was convicted and sentenced to another twenty-years in prison.
The story bio-dad told me about his first conviction of rape went something like this; he said that he was fooling around with a wealthy, married woman who’s husband came home in the middle of their indiscretion. To avoid being caught cheating on her husband, he said she screamed rape. This was in the early 60’s, and he claims that there wasn’t much of a trial. The jury found him guilty of rape. He proclaimed that he was only guilty of being unfaithful to my mother. I did sort of believe him, I wasn’t really sure what the truth was. Then, after he committed another serious crime, and the fact that he did travel to the woman’s house with the intent to rape and kill her, I came to believe that he was indeed guilty of rape the first time. But, when it comes down to it, only God knows now.
Either way, I no longer wanted anything to do with him even though he wrote me many letters trying to explain and apologize. I wrote him one letter to let him know that I was finished and no longer wanted to hear from him. He continued to write me letters and at some point told me that he had been diagnosed with cancer. I didn’t believe him, I didn’t believe anything he said.
About a year later, I was notified by bio-dad’s sister that he had been transported to a prison ward in a hospital in Augusta, Georgia. She said that he was dying. I really did not know how to feel about this news and so I did not respond for a while.
It wasn’t long after that, my aunt called me and said that he was asking to see me. She said that she believed he was holding on until he could see me one last time. I agreed to go with her to see him.
They knew that I and my family had been very active in the church and that I was a Christian. My aunt told me that bio-dad had requested I bring my Bible. She said he wanted me to help him pray and ask God for forgiveness. So off I went with my aunt, Bible in hand.
When we arrived at the hospital, it was scary to me because we had to go through slamming, locking doors much like those in prison cells. When we arrived at his hospital room, we were searched before allowed to enter his room. The guards would not let me take in my Bible. When we entered, the sight I saw was a sight that will never leave my memory. He was chained and shackled to his death bed. As I sat there beside him, he began to tell me how sorry he truly was for all the wrong he had done. In between his repeated bouts of spitting up blood, he begged my forgiveness and asked me to beg my mother to forgive him as well.
Then, he asked me, “How do I get God to forgive me?” Swallowing a huge gulp, I said, “You simply pray and acknowledge that you are a sinner, and then you ask God to forgive you.” He asked, “Is that all? Are you sure?” I told him that if he acknowledges that he is a believer in God and that God gave His only son to die for our sins, and then repent for his sins asking God to forgive him, he will be saved. I did my best to remember Bible verses to quote for him and I prayed with him. I told him that I did forgive him and that now that he has repented and prayed for forgiveness, God has also forgiven him. For a minute, he had a hard time understanding that even on his death bed he could be forgiven. I do know that before I left the visit, he could feel the spirit of God with him and he did find peace.
When our allowed visitation time was up, his sister and I left the hospital drove our six hour trip home. Sometime after midnight, that very next morning, I received the call that he had passed away.
This was one occasion when I knew without a doubt that God had made his presence known. I knew that God had allowed him to stay long enough for my visit and that my purpose in that story was to lead another sinner to salvation before he passed just a few hours later.
Those memories are hard for me. However, I do find comfort and peace in the ending of this story because I know that I served the Lord and was there with the Word of God to help save a soul that had caused me so much pain. That, in the end, is where I found my closure.
“For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” – Mark 11:25
Have you found a way to forgive someone who has hurt you badly? Will you tell us about it? Believing that God can forgive someone for horrible things is sometimes easier than forgiving them ourselves. Your story will encourage someone today.
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3 thoughts on “Camille’s Story”
Reblogged this on Sharing Jesus.
My life story is very similar to yours with the exception of me being male. lol No seriously I too was abused and punished in the harshest of ways during my youth. I try as much as I can to forgive those that hurt me. My parents of course. As I go to do so that little devil that sits on my left shoulder reminds me of their passing. As much as I say I forgive I know it is just spoken to the air. My heart really wants to forgive but my mind won’t let it become a reality.
Thank-you for sharing your thoughts. I read something this morning that reminded me that when we have been abused, betrayed, or rejected by those we love and trust the most, it leaves deep wounds and lots of emotional fallout. For me, that looked like anger and distrust. I had to learn that I wasn’t responsible for the way others hurt me, or their behavior towards me years later. We’re only responsible for our reactions to their hurt, and sure enough, I had some accounting to do as I moved through my healing. God knew. He knew how they had originally been hurt, and how that cycle continued until it got to us. Once I understood that, I was able to forgive. I wasn’t able to do it without God’s help, though.