On this, the eve of my 50th birthday, I have very few regrets. The biggest is that I wasted so many years running from God while He was calling out to me, telling me that He could heal me and mend my broken heart. What a tragic waste those empty years were!
The second biggest regret is that I've never felt loved as I have loved. Yes, I know Kerry loved me. But not the way I loved Kerry. Kerry "settled" for me, believing I was the last chance to find love because no one else would be able to look past the medical issues and just accept and love. Therefore, I became the consolation prize. Kerry never said, "I'm in love with you," although I said it many times. I did hear, "I love you," most often after I would say it. And I knew throughout the entire 3 years of that relationship that I was the consolation prize, the "settled for" relationship. You see, Kerry rejected me, first. It wasn't until after spending more than 6 months looking and not finding that I became a viable candidate.
And Paula didn't even love me as a friend. Ours was a marriage of convenience. A pure and simple business transaction to save money on taxes, rent and health insurance. Not exactly the right foundation for a long, lasting relationship. Which is probably why Paula hates me so much, even to this day, some 20 years later. I pulled out of the arrangement because I needed something more that Paula was incapable of giving.
I loved all of my parents, and I know they didn't love me as completely as they have loved others. You'd think a man who had 4 parents would have had one in the mix that was truly loving, but it just wasn't meant to be. My father is incapable of love. He's a sociopath who is only interested in what someone can do for him; what he can gain from the relationship. My mother, who gave birth to me fifty years ago did love me in her own way. But not unconditionally. You see, Mother thought I was weird and strange. She even told others that, including other family members. I learned many years after her passing that she was actually coming to Nashville twice a year for about 4 years and not once did she ever let me know she was in town. Then again, from the time I was reunited with Mother in December 1976 until her death in November 1998, my Mother never once picked up the phone and called me. She never gave me a birthday card and if I wasn't at her home to celebrate Christmas, she didn't give me a Christmas gift. She did all of those things for her 3 step-sons, but my brother Darren and I only mattered, it seems, if we made the effort. And my Mama, my Dad's third wife, who raised me from age 4 to age 13, showered Darren and I with attention from the day they took us from Oklahoma until the day she gave birth to her one and only child. A child she had been told she would never have. She wasn't cruel to Darren and I, but she did become more distant. And the few times when we did rekindle our relationship, it seemed it was more about what I could do for her, or what she could gain from me than about having a parent/child relationship.
The other parent figure in my life is the woman I call my Foster Mom. I do believe she loves me. But it is a conditional type love. And after her remarriage, I was more or less asked to stop contacting her. But for those years she raised me and throughout my 20's, she was there for me and did more for me than anyone ever had before. She didn't just provide my physical needs of food and shelter, she provided guidance, advice, instruction and correction. I truly would not be the man I am today were it not for Ann Hanson Hale. It is because of her, and only her on this earth, that I have integrity, honesty and stability.
My other biggest regret is, of course, the loss of my son in my life. David Wayne was ripped from me even before he was born. His mother, Jackie, never allowed me to see him, even going to the extreme of threatening to have me arrested if I showed up at the hospital in 1985 when he was in hospital in Dallas. I know that in her own heart she thought she was protecting our child, so I don't hold any ill feelings toward her. But that doesn't take one whit away from the loss and hurt of having never being able to hold my son in my arms, to see him take his first steps or say his first words; to hear him call me, "da da" or any of those other wonderful joys of being a father. Whomever said you cannot miss what you never had never had a child they were never able to see, touch or love. Trust me, you can miss something you've never had, quite deeply and painfully.
But, I've also had many, many blessings in the last 50 years. I had Grandparents who took me into their home and raised me when I was cast aside by my own parents. I had a Foster Mom who rescued me out of a dingy motel on the Bossier strip the moment she learned I had been abandoned there by my father. I've had cousins who have loved me and accepted me for who I am, warts and all, without question and without judgment, becoming more like brothers and sisters than cousins; namely Marilyn Camp Owens, Pamela Camp, Charlotte Martin Burgeson, Dewayne Pierce, Ernie Camp and Gene Arnold.
Most importantly, I've had good friends and wonderful spiritual leaders and spiritual brothers and sisters who have stood by me and encouraged me as well as corrected me. The greatest thing I've ever done was to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior on 10 March 1985. Though I've failed to live up to all that I should have been and should have done, He has never failed to be there, to bless me and to guide me.
Yes, the last 50 years have been filled with triumphs, victories, sorrows, mistakes and a few regrets, but I'm still looking forward to the next 50, if the Lord tarries, performing His will and following His command. Wherever He leads me, I will follow.