June 18, 2014: Rescue From an Old Memory

~by Louis Templeman

While clearing out boxes from a recent move I discovered a very old cassette tape. It was so old I was unsure if it would play. The label in my hand read, Daphne screaming at my daughter. I felt a divide in my mind, unclear if I should play it or not. When standing before a precipice you sense the danger but it is often hard to resist the siren call of perverse curiosity.

I put it in my old tape player and discovered a lot of nothing with background noise. Then I recalled the memory. A long blast from my wife screaming at my oldest child, her step-daughter, prompted me to make the tape. I foolishly thought that if I caught her on tape I could convince her of how cruel and hateful she sounded and possibly awaken her to the destruction she was doing to my daughter’s psyche. I rewound the tape, turned up the volume and let it play.

What I captured was not as alarming as the verbal issue that prompted it but there was enough left of the tirade to invoke the feelings of my personal helplessness and regret that my marriage had so hurt my child. Daphne was blaming her for the mess her little sister had made. She was assigned babysitting duties and therefore all the mess was her fault. It was not the logic that hurt me but the tone of voice. Daphne could have used the same tone and emotion for banishing a messy puppy to the pound. I could tell she was sorry the child was ever made a part of her life. She had her own deep seated rejection issues as well as a profound jealousy of the affection I showed for my daughter. I was re-visited by such a chilling dread of regret that I turned the tape off.

When it became clear that I was in love with Daphne and wanted to marry her, my only fear was the welfare of my daughter. So I put her through a thorough “interview” of sorts. I needed to know she would love my child as her own. She patiently endured what she felt was more of an interrogation and delivered all the right answers. However, she was not able to pull it off.

Three years ago I stood beside Daphne in her Intensive Care hospital room as she died. I stood there with our four daughters. That afternoon I called my oldest daughter and informed her of Daphne’s death. She told me later she fell into a psychological melt-down that lasted over a week. The news of the death of her step-mother was a double edged sword. One edge told her she was finally safe while the other cut loose the memories she had long kept disconnected in her mind. She wrestled the torment until she was clear of it.

My attempt to form a new family failed. My wife was certainly unhappy and my daughter was tormented. And now I am conflicted with guilt for not doing better.

I need to live in the present and simply trust that God’s fingerprints are all over my past. My child thinks God in some way turned it out for good. And his good covers us all. In this view, I suppose, no one is the villain, but all are in need of rescue.

Do all things really work for the good as we trust in God? I have to believe it is true. The passage of time usually reflects this. Certainly I want that to be true. But I trust it is true simply because it is.

God is love and God does care. He doesn’t always rescue per our orders (or prayers) but he is always as close to us as our breath. Nearer to us than our hands and feet.

~Louis Templeman

Louis writes from Jacksonville, Florida where he lives with his old friend and wonderful bride, Joy. They transformed their friendship into the sacrament of marriage on August 30, 2012. They share their home with two self-absorbed, playful, twin cats (Flo and Jet) and one very allusive and arrogant cat named D.

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