33.0 Out of the Blue

 By Elizabeth Stephens

One summer morning, out of the blue, James turned to me and said, “The LORD spoke to me when I awoke. Today,  you are going to meet Mr. Lascar.”

That’s my Dad, David. “Okay,” I thought and went off to do something else.

The phone rang later that morning and James said, “It’s Adrian.”

My sister was calling from Hawaii. She had been living there for a few years and was soon to be married. She explained to me that her Pastor had encouraged her to invite our parents to the wedding. She didn’t expect a reply, but in obedience had sent off an invitation. She said, “David wrote me back.” She was surprised and read the letter to me. In it David commented that it was his first written correspondence in the last thirty years. His wife, Selma had done everything for him (including telling him what to think and when to think it). Now she was dying. She had gone in for an operation and shortly after the doctors had opened her up, they saw cancer had spread throughout her body, closed her up and sent her home to die.

It was difficult to process. At the same time, I thought, “Wow. How amazing this is transpiring,” as I thought back to James’ comment that very morning. (In retrospect, now I realize that it was not David who wrote a letter to me saying “Give your children to the Buddha”, but it was Selma, impersonating David).

Meeting David 

After finishing my call with Adrian, I realized that we needed some assuring guidance or insight on this difficult matter. It had been nineteen years since I had seen my father David. James called up the church we were attending and talked to the pastor of the day. When he found out it was one of the young men going to seminary, he felt it was too complex to explain, and so politely declined their help,  said thank you and instead at that moment decided to call some friends and have them pray for us. We could only get a hold of our friend Lucky. Then James said, “Let’s pray and ask the Holy Spirit to guide us.”

 

After we got done praying, James said, “I believe the LORD is directing us to get the children dressed up, pick up some flowers and drive to their house in Malibu.  I had no idea what to expect. Had Selma already died? We only knew that we must proceed in faith. We loaded up our three children and drove from Canyon Country to Malibu about an hour drive away, a distance of some thirty plus miles.

As our green Volkswagen bus pulled up to their house a young woman was coming out. I was getting Taylor, who was six months old, out of her car seat and James walked up to the woman and said, “Marcy?” He had never met my half sisters, but knew their names. How he managed to get the right name with the right person was just the Lord.

She responded, “Yes, who are you?”

He said, “I’m Elizabeth Stephens’ husband.”

She was somewhat puzzled. “I don’t know any Elizabeth Stephens.”

James said, “You may remember her as Liz Lascar.”

“Sure. Oh, Lizzy!”

“Elizabeth heard that Selma was not doing well.”

Marcy, responded, “No she’s not. In fact, she just returned this morning from the hospital.”

James asked, “Elizabeth wanted to visit her and David.”

Marcy said, “David’s out, but she can come in. Let me go in and tell her.”

James then came to the VW and told me and we got the children ready to go in.  I noticed that Marcy had gone inside. My heart sank. Marcy reappeared and said, “Please come in. I’m just heading off to work, but Marilyn is inside.” So we all walked in together, but didn’t know what to expect.

The house was absolutely immaculate, a grand piano, white coaches, huge floor to ceiling glass windows overlooking the blue expanse of the Pacific Ocean and a beautiful flower garden in full bloom with purple lavender flowers, crimson red bougainvilleas, and red azaleas.

Marilyn was inside and greeted us as we entered. She said, “Hi Liz” like nothing had ever happened. “Dad’s not here.” As you can imagine my head was spinning. Marilyn showed James and I and the children into the living area and then she said, “I’ll let Selma know you’re here.”

I heard Marilyn go into the bedroom and say, “Lizzy is here.”  I heard an audible groan. It was very disturbing. I was ushered into a bedroom and there was Selma lying in a hospital bed. I took a seat next to the bed as my family waited in the living room. Selma would not even look at me and would not even speak to me.

This reminds me of the story of Jane Eyre, a novel by English writer Charlotte Brontë. In the novel, Jane Eyre, a young girl  suffered abuse under her Aunt after her parents died. Years later after much suffering and deprivation, she was sent for by  her abusive Aunt as she lay dying. The relative’s intent was to clear her conscience and tell Jane that another relative had come looking for her years earlier to bestow a fortune on her to which the Aunt falsely reported Jane’s death. Jane Eyre though hurt,  believed in God and told her Aunt that she forgave her, but the women would not hear of this and died shortly thereafter.

Likewise, Selma would not open her eyes nor even acknowledge my presence. I said, “Hello.” She would not utter a single word.

All of a sudden the front door opened and I heard David come in. He was talking to James and for the first time they met face to face. David was also amazed at seeing his grandchildren. (He did not have any grandchildren through his other children at the time). I got up from Selma’s bedside and entered the living room. There was David, my earthly father. I felt very strange. I had prayed for this so many times. I had always felt that David would die first. But here he was. David did not know what to say. He said, “Hello.” But I can’t remember much more.

All that he could get out to James was, “How can you ever forgive me?” James did share the forgiveness that he had known from Jesus and the subject was shortly changed. But he did listen. He was uncomfortable and stepped outside for a smoke in the garden with James.

When he came back in, James said, “Well, I guess we should be heading out.”

David, said, “Have some dinner.”  What could we say? We were surprised and the next thing we found ourselves being ushered into their kitchen and seated while Marilyn prepared some food. Never before had I dined in their kitchen all those years and now they were making us a meal!  Scripture raced through my mind, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies” (Psalm 23:5). As I thought back to my early days, so many feelings came flooding back.

As we sat at the table, we talked about the Scriptures and Marilyn marveled on how well we knew Torah. She said, “And I work for a Jewish agency! I’m going have to study more!” It was all in good humor. And yet, it was a strangely surreal.

I never made it back into Selma’s room, yet I was okay with that. It was time to leave and David took down our phone number saying he would call us soon. We left and talked all the way home about all that had happened.

Advertisements

34.0 An Awkward Reunion

By Elizabeth Stephens

A few days had gone by and I was feeling uneasy. Why had David not picked up the phone? I couldn’t wait any longer and called his number. Selma picked up the phone and said hello. I was stunned and hung up. I was not prepared for that.  It immediately brought back memories of days gone by when I had called their home hoping that I would get David on the phone and not Selma. He never picked up the phone.

David did finally call and came over and visited. I was so surprised. It was unreal to me as you can imagine after nineteen years of separation. James was at work and so David took us out to Marie Callendar’s Restaurant for lunch. It was so strange to be sitting down having a meal with my Dad. My father-in-law Carlton drove the children and I to the restaurant  to meet him.

In the meantime, my sister Adrian and her fiancé Scott had gotten married in Hawaii and were on their honeymoon. Now, where do you think people who live in Hawaii go on their honeymoon? Try Russia. They joined up with a Hawaiian dance company from the islands and assisted them on a tour in Russia. On their way back the newlyweds planned a stop in Los Angeles for a short visit with the relatives.

File2795

Sheila, Baby Tay, and Eric in front of the Welcome Mr. and Mrs. Loomis sign.

We pulled together a small family reunion to greet Adrian and her husband Scott. David was first to arrive and greeted his grandchildren.

Sheila, Grandpa David and Eric.

Sheila, Grandpa David and Eric.

He was followed by my Aunt Sharon and her eldest daughter Rebecca. David had not seen Sharon  (my late mother Bebs’ sister) for years and years. Although they were civil to one another, it was obvious their feelings about one another had not changed.

 

David greeting Sharon, his late wife Bebs' sister and Sharon's eldest daughter Rebecca.

David greeting Sharon, his late wife Bebs’ sister and Sharon’s eldest daughter Rebecca.

Here is Adrian and Scott arriving for the reception.

 

Adrian and Scott arriving at the reception/reunion.

Adrian and Scott arriving at the reception/reunion.

 

The arrivals and greetings were full of wildly different emotions. Adrian had not seen David for nearly nineteen years.

Reunion between Adrian and David after nineteen years in Canyon Country.

Reunion between Adrian and David after nineteen years in Canyon Country.

It was such a whirlwind of activity, we had no idea what to expect.

Adrian, David, and I reunited for the first time in nineteen years.

Adrian, David, and I reunited for the first time in nineteen years.

It’s very difficult to describe in words the torrent of feelings and emotions, and strange relief that flowed through my heart at the time. Two daughters reunited with their Dad after nineteen years of separation. It seemed like a dream. The photo tells a story in itself. Aunt Sharon talking with Adrian’s husband Scott, and an old family photo of my great grandparents from Lithuania, and an antique painting James picked up in Minneapolis of the Good Shepherd taking care of His lamb and flock.

Lucky and Jennifer and their girls arrived and brought a delicious cake for the reception.

Our good friends, Jennifer and Lucky and their three girls, Brittany, Marney, and Lindsey.

Our good friends, Jennifer and Lucky and their three girls, Brittany, Marney, and Lindsey.

 

Jennifer and the lovely wedding cake.

Jennifer bringing the lovely wedding cake.

Jennifer bringing the lovely wedding cake.

Honoring the Newlyweds-Mr. and Mrs. Adrian and Scott Loomis.

Adrian and Scott Loomis. Lindsey in the foreground and Marney on Scott's left.

Adrian and Scott Loomis. Lindsey in the foreground and Marney, Eric, and Sheila on Scott’s left.

Time for Cake and a group photo.

File2858

Adrian and Scott cutting the cake, Lindsey, Eric, Taylor, Brittany, Sheila. Second row. Marney, Sharon, Rebecca, Elizabeth; third row Lucky and Jennifer.

A Toast to the new bride and groom, Mr. and Mrs. Scott Loomis.

The Wedding Toast for Adrian and Scott.

The Wedding Toast for Adrian and Scott.

 

One last photo of Adrian, David and I with Taylor on my back around the table.

Adrian, David, and I with Baby Taylor on my back.

Adrian, David, and I with Baby Taylor on my back.

 

After the gathering, every one seemed to go back to their lives. Adrian and Scott settled in Hawaii. Our family moved to the Pasadena area.  David continued to live at their home in Malibu focusing on caring for Selma who was bedridden at the time.

Grandpa Carlton in the rocker holding baby Taylor.

Grandpa Carlton in the rocker holding baby Taylor.

Carlton, James’ Dad who had lived with us in Canyon Country in our three bedroom house, moved with us to Pasadena to William Carey International University, where we moved into one of the last rentals available, the smallest two bedroom rental house. It was so small you had to get to the bathroom by going through one of the bedrooms.

People would find out that he lived with us and they would ask why he did not live alone. Our response was why should he when he can enjoy his grandchildren? We all loved him so much. How can you trade the love of the grand kids either? No one would have traded the time we had with Carlton for anything.

Carlton was the strong tall Texan and very handsome. As you can imagine there was a slight rivalry between the grandpas.

 

File3010 Two Grandpas and two granddaughters. My Dad David sitting next to our oldest daughter Sheila, my Father-in-law Carlton holding our youngest baby Taylor.

Two Grandpas and two granddaughters. My Dad David sitting next to our oldest daughter Sheila, my Father-in-law Carlton holding our youngest baby Taylor.

Occasionally, David would come over and then began spending Sunday afternoons with us regularly after we moved to Pasadena. He helped build a white picket fence and a little clubhouse for the children to play in as well.

When we moved to Pasadena, James and David built a white picket fence and James and Carlton planted a bluegrass lawn for the children to play on. Here's Taylor.

When we moved to Pasadena, James and David built a white picket fence and James and Carlton planted a bluegrass lawn for the children to play on. Here’s Taylor.

When David came over he commented on how small the house was. You must be saints to live in this little shack. He wasn’t known for his subtlety.  Nevertheless, he loved hanging out at our home and sensed peace in our abode.

Our hatbox. We had all sorts of hats. James and the children loved to role play with all the various hats they'd pull out of the box.

Our hatbox. We had all sorts of hats. James and the children loved to role play with all the various hats they’d pull out of the box.

Adrian, David,me.jpg

My sister, Adrian, David and me at Palisades Park in Santa Monica, California area.