Fatherless, Fragile, and Faithful (Part One)

By Steve Austin | faith

Sep 26

To really understand my story, you need to know a little of Mom’s.

Mom is the second of four kids: two girls, two boys. Her biological mother died of cancer when she was four, her sister was six, her brothers two and newborn. My grandfather, devastated to have the love of his life die and leave him with four young kids, freaked out. He sent the three youngest to live with their grandparents, four hours away and kept Mom’s sister with him. Mom had a great relationship there: felt loved and accepted..but, there was always an undercurrent of “when is dad coming to get us? How long will this last? Why isn’t Melissa here?”
They remained a few years, then was brought back. Being back was scary. They didn’t know when their dad would yell, cry, abuse…something didn’t seem right.

His anger was frequent and explosive.


Eventually, my grandpa remarried a nice lady named Kay when Mom was a sixth grader. Kay became sick and died two years later. After that, the kids were virtually alone. He’d be gone for weeks, months sometimes and leave a little grocery money for them and be off again.  When he did come home, well, there’s a lot of scars from those visits; mostly unseen. Finally, when Mom was a senior in high school, he remarried again. This time to a widow named Shirley, she’s my Gram today. With her came five kids, all between the ages of 16-23.  It was nothing personal to the new additions, Mom just needed to leave. She did.

In the crazy up-bringing she had, she learned what true sexist religion is: no pants, no makeup,  no jewelry…no pretty. For the first time ever, she could do what she wanted to do. Mom, being the obedient, sweet person she was, didn’t go buck wild herself, she just found the man who did it all for her. I hear my dad was a charmer. He apparently could schmooze better than any car sales man around. He was sophisticated, cool and didn’t care what anyone else thought. Mom fell hard and fast. She called home from a pay phone after they got married by a justice of the peace.  Need more of a picture? His was the kinda redneck family that made extra dough by selling the moonshine that was cooked up in the bathtub. Classy.
Mom always wanted to be what her mom was: a nurse. She started nursing school. Dad had issues that deterred from the whole bread-winning idea. Most of that was the whiskey he drank in excess. Because of that, he’d start a new job and get fired easily. So, Mom held it down. This carried on throughout and up til delivery of her three pregnancies. Ruth was first. Since Dad didn’t have a job, he was her primary caretaker. She learned that Mommy’s name was B*tch and Daddy’s was God. Yeah, you just read that correctly. She bonded with him easily since Mom was always working. Adam followed 13 months after Ruth.

“Learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” Isaiah 1:17

Mom really didn’t love this arrangement, she was exhausted due to working 55-60 hour weeks. She started to speak up about it. She’d get a few punches and learn to stay quiet. Her thought, “I have to make this work. If he hurts me a little, I’ll be fine. If he ever hurts my kids, THEN I’ll leave.” So, she put her head down, she worked. She loved us. She tried to love him into being a good guy, that never seemed to pan out all that great. Really, all she really wanted was a man to love her.

I was born 13 months after Adam.

So, it was kinda crazy. Three kids, just over a year apart from each other, talk about a zoo! It was loud and financially VERY tight: it was years of therapy in the making. Dad’s drinking increased. Adam, sick one evening with a temperature, was whiny, inconsolable. Dad told him to hush, he didn’t. So he was picked up by a leg and thrown against a wall. Adam still has a little ‘x’ scar above his lip to commemorate that moment.

This was the beginning of the end.

To be continued…

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About the Author

Steve Austin is an author, speaker, and life coach who is passionate about helping overwhelmed people learn to catch their breath. He is the author of two Amazon bestsellers, "Catching Your Breath," and "From Pastor to a Psych Ward." Steve lives with his wife and two children in Birmingham, Alabama.

  • Thank you Sarah, for putting your story into words. Much love.

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