I’m traveling these days without regular access to the Internet. Thus I’m writing a belated Father’s Day reflection. Click here to see my Mother’s Day reflection.
My parents divorced when I was about 4 years old. My father came from a pretty busted family situation and consequently was almost completely absent from my life. That’s another post for another day.
My Mother was left to raise my younger brother and me as a single woman in Memphis, Tennessee. As a secretary in a bank my Mother met a lot of people and as an attractive young woman received numerous requests for a date. On those occasions when she did date it often was short-lived. Usually my Mother having two children was a factor in the termination of those relationships.
Then along came George Dendrinos. He began dating my Mother when I was about 10 and my brother was about 8. George not only thought my Mother was great, he thought the same about my brother and me. He often made “dates” with all of us and enjoyed introducing us to new experiences.
George’s dating of my Mother was very costly. Not only was he growing to love all of us and interested in us becoming a family (an expensive prospect relationally and financially) but his family was totally against it. His family was strictly Greek Orthodox. Not only was it scandalous to marry a divorcee and have an instant family, my Mother was not Greek nor Orthodox.
George went against his family’s protests and proposed to my Mother and she said yes. However, a month before their scheduled wedding my younger brother suddenly died because of a cerebral hemorrhage. The trauma of loss was so great to my Mother that she fell apart. George sought to be a comfort and help the best he knew how but my Mother’s anguish was so great she kept striking out at him and pushing him away, at one point even giving his ring back to him. Eventually they reconciled and married a year later when I was 13.
Thus the drama only intensified. My Mother grieved my brother’s death for a long time and I began acting out, partly as an adolescent and partly in my own experience of grief. My Mother and I were both so “over the top” in our own ways that I am in awe that George stayed with us. I don’t know that I’ve ever met another man who would have stayed with us. I’ll always love and respect George for that.
George attended all my athletic and school involvements and cheered me on. He celebrated every accomplishment that ever came my way. When I graduated from high school George helped pay my way through college so that I graduated with no debt.
I later married and had two children of my own and my comprehension of George’s love and commitment was deepened so that I marvel all the more. When I came home to visit one day in 1989 and explained that I thought God was leading me to move to Seattle and start a new church, meaning that I would move myself and especially my parent’s grandchildren 2,000 miles away, I had nothing but support and encouragement.
After being in Seattle for about a year my Mother had the first of what would be several strokes. George has been an extraordinary care giver to my Mother in addition to working full time and making a living. Today he does it all; works, keeps house, washes clothes, shops for groceries, prepares meals, and tends to my mother with a hundred different details.
My wife has asked, “Would you be able to do that for me if we were in their place?” I honestly don’t know. I’ve never known anyone like George.
I thank God for the good gift George is to me, my family and my Mother.