Geoffrey Woods is just a boy when his father is diagnosed with cancer-a disease that not only robs his father of his health, but also changes Geoffrey's family dynamics forever. Now an unpredictable man who often subjects his family to outbursts of anger and frustration, Geoffrey's father instills a fear in his wife and his children that never goes away. It is not long before Geoffrey commits himself to wholeheartedly hating the man he once loved with all his heart.
In his poignant story, Geoffrey shares how his relationship with his father became laced with distance, disappointment, and betrayal, causing him to eventually isolate himself from his friends, sports, and the life he once knew. Somehow he survives and accepts God into his heart-even as the distance between Geoffrey and his father grows. As he matures into a young man who is still suffering from his father's constant betrayal, Geoffrey begins to question everything, the crucial first step of a lengthy journey to eventual forgiveness, healing, and inner-peace.
A Case for Wisdom describes how a relationship fueled by distrust and distance is ultimately transformed into a loving bond between father and son based on truth, kindness, and, most importantly, unconditional love.
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.18(d)|
|Age Range:||1 - 17 Years|
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A CASE FOR WISDOMA SON'S STORY ABOUT RECONCILING WITH HIS FATHER
By Geoffrey Woods
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Geoffrey Woods
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAcknowledging My Problems
Acknowledge—the first step in gaining wisdom—stands for acknowledging problems. The desire for wisdom starts with the knowledge that there are problems in life that one does not know how to solve. I start my story with my childhood.
The Setting of My Childhood
I was born at Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena, California, in 1960. I came home from the hospital to 2430 Cross Street in La Crescenta, California. La Crescenta, northwest of the hospital, would be my home for the next eighteen years. The one-story brick house had brown wood trim and hardwood floors. There was a big brick fireplace in the living room; down the hallway, off the living room, were three bedrooms and the "big bathroom." The "little bathroom" was off the kitchen next to the laundry room.
Due to an expanding family of two boys and then two girls, my parents added a large bedroom above the garage in the late 1960s, which my older brother and I shared. My paternal grandfather built a doghouse in the side yard. This was a great gift since we had several dogs. The biggest, a Saint Bernard named Danny, stood about as tall as I was at the time. The smallest dog we owned was a beagle named Buster. We always had at least one dog. If one dog died or ran away, it didn't take my dad much time to bring a new one home. My father loved dogs! His love for dogs was a point of contention between my parents; he loved dogs, but my mother didn't!
The front of our house was fairly large with a lawn and a driveway that led into the garage. A huge tree shaded a good portion of the small backyard so no grass would grow. My parents eventually built a deck in the backyard that we used during the summer. We always had enough room to play games among ourselves or with the neighborhood children.
Our street was one block above the main boulevard. The police station was on one end of Foothill Boulevard. Since the police station was located on Briggs Avenue, some people referred to the police as the "Briggs Pigs." There was an old stone Episcopal church where the neighborhood kids would ride bikes, play "Adam 12" or the "Mod Squad," make forts, and spy on people who lived across the street. That was the only church we attended as a family; I received my religious education there.
There were many two-parent families with children my age and older on our street. The fathers worked, and the mothers stayed home. My mother was a stay-at-home mom, and I always found it comforting to come home after school and have my mom there. We were free to play, ride bikes, and go to each other's homes since everyone knew each other.
We lived within walking distance of the elementary school, the junior high school, and the high school. I walked to and from school almost every day. It was a good school system, and I am grateful to my parents for providing a comfortable home, a good middle-class neighborhood, and good schools for my siblings and me.
Our life offered a great amount of potential for my family to be happy, but we didn't experience much happiness. We appeared happy to everyone in our neighborhood, and we kept up the appearance for a very long time. However, with time, unexpected tragedies and betrayals exposed the unhappiness.
The Fear of Death
When I was about seven years old, my father's father, the one who built our doghouse, was stricken with stomach cancer. My grandfather was a short, stout man. He played football in high school and, at one point in his life, he was a fireman—and he looked like both. Although I referred to him as Grandpa Woods, other people called him Stub. To this day, I still don't know why that was his nickname.
My grandfather was a strong, seemingly invincible man, but he eventually succumbed to cancer. I didn't see him while he was ill and didn't see my grandmother until his funeral. In the big black limousine, my brother, father, and grandmother sat directly across from me. I looked mostly at the floor because, every time I looked up, I saw my grandmother crying. She wore a hat, a formal dress, white gloves, and black shoes. I had never seen her dressed that way before, and I had never seen her cry so uncontrollably. I knew his death was a tragedy by witnessing my grandmother's grief, and I didn't like seeing her that way. I remained quiet because I didn't know what to do or say.
Several weeks after the funeral, I was eating my Wheaties or Fruit Loops at the kitchen table. My parents were talking about my grandfather. My father stood by the toaster, waiting for his toast. He explained how my grandfather's death had been horrific and awful. Toward the end of his life, he didn't even look like himself, and he suffered a great deal of pain. His cancer must have been a monster of a disease if it could destroy my grandfather and take his life. This disease must have been stronger than he was.
My naïve, frightened, seven-year-old brain tried to figure it all out. It was my first experience with death, and I thought about it constantly. I never wanted to get cancer, and I didn't want any of my family members to get it either, especially my mother or father. To protect everyone, I created a belief that cancer would attack only older people. I was certainly safe, and so were my parents. I was sure of this, and I was relieved! A great fear had been lifted from my shoulders because I believed wholeheartedly we were all safe from getting cancer.
Several years after my grandfather's death, my father's energy level started to change. He started to complain about being tired, but he blamed it on his new work schedule. He had started working nights instead of days, and he thought he hadn't adjusted to his new schedule. I convinced myself that he'd be back to normal in a couple of weeks with no problems, and there was nothing to worry about.
One afternoon, my brother and I were watching TV on the leather couch in the den. My father loved books and had built bookshelves for his hundreds of books. Our TV was in the middle of all the books. I definitely liked to watch TV more than reading books since it was easier to turn on the TV than to read!
While I was thinking about how much I preferred TV to books, my mother walked into the den. I was a little shocked because she was all dressed up, and she was so beautiful. She was slender with dark hair, and she was wearing a red dress, a dress that Jacqueline Kennedy would wear. As I was staring at her, she sat down in a chair across from us.
She said, "Your father has stomach cancer." She started to cry, and her crying turned into sobbing.
I sat on the couch, frozen as if I were watching my grandmother cry at my grandfather's funeral. This can't be possible! My father's too young to get stomach cancer! He is much too young to get the same cancer my grandfather had. I can't believe this. Only old people get cancer! How can this be? How can this happen? If my father dies, what will happen to us?
What will life be like without my father? Will my mom be able to take care of us?
I didn't want to face the answers to the questions that were spinning through my mind. I didn't want to face the possibility of my father's death.
My mom was crying uncontrollably. I didn't think she would be able to care for us if my father died. She told us he was going to have surgery.
When she left the room, my brother followed her. I was in shock. I couldn't move, and I didn't move for a long time. Finally, I walked to the kitchen and saw my brother.
"If Dad has surgery, will he be okay?" I asked.
"I don't know. Anytime someone has surgery, it's serious. They will have to cut him open, and that can be dangerous," he replied.
"He'll be all right. Won't he?"
"I really don't know."
In the weeks before my father's surgery, I tried hard to forget that he might die. I kept telling myself he would be okay. He can't die and leave us. He's too young to die. We won't be able to survive without him. However, the thought of his possible death was too strong for me to keep dormant. I tried my best not to think about it. I didn't want to think about it or talk about it with anyone.
My father asked me to go to the hospital with him.
"Why do you have to go to the hospital?" I asked.
"I have to have some tests done before my surgery. Will you please go with me?"
"Yes, I'll go with you," I said reluctantly.
Before his tests, we had lunch on an outside hospital patio. We were talking, and then there was a pause in the conversation.
My father said, "You know, Geoff, I might die."
I stared at him. I wanted to put my hands over my ears because I didn't want to hear what he had to say. I was so scared of those words. So many terrible questions raced through my mind while he was talking. I hated those questions! They tormented me. I lowered my head so I didn't have to make eye contact with him. I don't remember saying or doing anything else that day. I don't remember what we talked about or where we went afterward. I was paralyzed by the fear that I might lose my father. I might lose him to the same awful disease that had taken the life of my grandfather.
On the day of his surgery, I decided not to go to the hospital. I visited him in the hospital afterward with my mom and my older brother. The first time I saw him, he was on his right side with his back to us. I fixated on the many machines in the room. Tubes connected my father to the machines. When I saw my father with all these tubes taped to him, I noticed he wasn't moving.
Is he alive or dead?
I held my breath. I stared at him, squeezing my mom's hand and holding my breath. I waited to see if there was any movement from him. I was still holding my breath when I heard the nurse say to my mom, "He's doing just fine."
My father isn't dead!
I was relieved. I started to breathe normally again. When I walked around the other side of his bed, I was shocked at how different he looked. His face looked so much thinner, and his skin looked so pale. He didn't look like himself, especially with all the tubes.
The nurse looked at my mom with a smile and said, "He is recovering well from his surgery. He'll be able to go home in a couple of weeks."
When he finally came home, he was thin and weak. My father's cancer had moved from his stomach into his esophagus. They had removed part of his esophagus and two-thirds of his stomach. He had to learn how to eat again. If he ate too much—or ate food he shouldn't have—he would get sick and throw up. He also had to sleep elevated on a special pillow. If he fell off of it at night, he would start choking on the food that wasn't fully digested.
I woke up one night from hearing feet running on the hardwood floors. Someone was choking and throwing up. I sat up in bed in the dark, not knowing what to do. I didn't know what was happening.
My mom quickly opened my door and said, "Your cousin is coming over to stay with you."
"Why? What's wrong?" I asked.
"I have to take your father to the hospital," she replied as she shut my door.
He had fallen off his special pillow and was choking on the undigested food. He had suffered so much already, and health complications associated with his surgery and cancer continued. I began to hate this cancer for taking away the father I knew.
Sometimes, especially during the summer, he would walk around the house with his shirt off. His abdominal scar started low on his left side, moved across his abdomen, and continued all the way up toward his throat. I hated looking at that scar. It reminded me of the all-too-real possibility of his death; when I saw it, the nagging, terrible questions returned and my mind raced with fear.
My grandfather's death and my father's cancer created fear in me and my family. Now I know that if fear isn't confronted, it becomes an extremely heavy burden. It can corrupt people because it doesn't stay quiet or dormant. It grows and slowly passes through different stages until it turns into something dangerous and destructive.
Questions for the Reader:
1. What belief did I create for myself and why?
2. Did the belief I created do what I intended it to do? Did it protect me or my family members?
3. As a child, did you ever create a belief or beliefs to protect you or your loved ones from harm or danger? If so, take the time to write the belief or beliefs and whether they protected you from harm.
Fear Turns into Something Ugly
Things were definitely different after my father came home from the hospital. The whole dynamic of my family changed. The way we communicated with each other changed, and the way my father interacted with us changed considerably.
When he finally came home from the hospital, he wasn't the same person. He needed more rest, and my mom would often remind us that we had to be quiet so he could sleep. She also told us he wouldn't be able to do as much with us because he needed more rest. Therefore, he wasn't as involved with us as much as he had been.
The most noticeable change I noticed was my father's unpredictable behavior. I never knew how he was going to react to anything I might do or say. One morning, my mom had made us eggs. He was across from me at the kitchen table, and my mom was cleaning up by the kitchen sink.
"Go put your schoolbooks in the car," he said. He was going to drive me to school that morning.
"I'll put them in the car when we both have finished breakfast and are ready to go," I said.
"I told you to put them in the car!"
"I'll put them in the car when we're ready to leave."
"I said put them in the car right now!"
"No, it doesn't make sense. I'll put them in the car when we go."
"Damn it! I told you to put your books in the car. Put them in the car right now!"
"I told you to put them in the car. Put them in the car!" He started to pound the table. He kept yelling and pounding the table.
I stared at him. I didn't know what else to do. I could see the eggs on the side of his mouth that he hadn't swallowed because he was so busy yelling.
When he finally stopped yelling, he got up from the table and went to his bedroom.
"What was his problem? Why was he so angry?"
"I don't know. He was sure mad," replied my mom.
He drove me to school in complete silence. I didn't understand why he was so angry and irrational.
Another time, out of the blue, he came charging up the stairs into my bedroom where I was watching TV by myself.
"I can't believe you. You are just lying there doing nothing. I don't like it when you're like this. You should be reading or outside doing sports or helping your mother with the work around the house. You're just lying there. Get up and do something!"
I slowly turned my head behind me to see if maybe he was yelling at one of my brothers or sisters, but there was no one there. I had no idea why he was yelling at me. I wasn't teasing any of my siblings, and I wasn't causing any type of trouble. I didn't understand why he was yelling at me out of the blue. I stared at him and didn't say a word. When he was finished yelling at me, he left.
I was confused about why he was so angry at me. Since he came home from the hospital, he would be very quiet and aloof for a while and then, out of nowhere, he would start yelling. I didn't understand it, but it made me leery of him since he was so unpredictable. I didn't know if his yelling would turn into something physical.
Another incident occurred when my older brother and I were having a disagreement and he intervened.
"Please let me borrow this paper. I need it for a school project," I pleaded with my brother. My mother and father were also in the dining room.
"I need this. Let me borrow it!"
I got the same reply.
My father yelled, "Let your brother borrow the paper."
"No," said my brother.
Chaos erupted. My father started going after my brother. He was chasing him around the dining room table and he finally got a hold of him.
"Jim, Jim, let him go," pleaded my mother as she got in between them. She was trying desperately to free my brother from the hands of my father.
The next thing I saw was my mother on the floor. My brother ran out of the house, and my father chased after him. My father returned a few minutes later and said he hadn't caught him. My father didn't apologize to my mother, who was now standing up, and he went straight to their bedroom. I went to my room, crying and not understanding how asking for a piece of paper had turned into something so ugly. I had never seen my father push my mother like that. Something had changed, and something was wrong.
Excerpted from A CASE FOR WISDOM by Geoffrey Woods Copyright © 2012 by Geoffrey Woods. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Acknowledging My Problems....................3