The little country house in Alabama was still standing as I arrived from my home in Florida, to see the old place. I looked around at the wheat fields that Dad, Andrew and I had worked for many years. As I walked in the door, tears came to my eyes. I still carry that pain in my mind, which has tormented me for years.
I sat down on an old box laying there by the window, just to bring back the memories. As I looked through the window, I could see Dad and Mom working, as Andrew and I played tag. He would say to Mom, can’t wait for these two boys to grow up to take over so we can sit and rest all day. Mom would say as she always said if it is the Lord’s will.
We were a church going people. Every Sunday Dad would bring up the wagon and off to church we would go, no matter what. The years went by so fast. Mom became very sick; Dad could not handle all the work. So Andrew and I took over. We had enough money to hire a few workers. I was like the lead man. I would go out and check the work, and do plenty myself. But Andrew was always complaining. He came home late one night from out at the beer box, like all the church people would call these places. My father was very upset, and with Mom sick this was not the right thing to do.
As the pastor was speaking one Sunday, bad news came to us that Mary Carver had run off with some man, and was killed in a crash car. The whole town was in mourning. On the way home Dad began to cry, I have a deep feeling in my heart. What about dad? It’s your mom. As we walked in, we found Mom on the floor. She had passed away. Another burden for Dad.
About two weeks after Mom’s death, things sort of got back to normal. Andrew came in and slammed the door in anger, and yelled I am leaving with Jill. We both have to get away from this town. We all knew what was going on with them. Dad tried so hard to speak common sense to him, but he would not listen. He packed up his suit case. As he walked out the door, I looked at him with an anger I could not explain. Dad said will you be back? In a rude way he said I don’t know. Dad walked up to him, kissed him and said, take this. Your mom had saved this for you. He opened the bag and there was money. With a smirk on his face he went out to the car. Jill clapped her hands, and off they went.
Dad cried for days, the church people “the holier than thou people”, instead of having compassion for us, they asked us how could you let this happen. They humiliated us. I was so angry, not only because of all that was going on, but now all the work falls on me.
A year had passed, and no word from Andrew. I hated him for what he had done to Dad. Yet Dad cried for him and prayed for him. How about me? I would get so furious and angry but I kept it all inside of me. I would go to church just for Dad’s sake. I had to swallow hard; I did not even want to be there. Then one day Peter and Angie, good friends, had gone to New York. They had seen Andrew there. He was filthy; a beggar on the streets. They said we could not even recognize him. He told Dad, that Jill had run off with some man. He was broke, sleeping in the street.
We then made a recommendation as we spoke with him. We want you to reconcile with your father and Peter. He cried and said how can they forgive me for what I have done? I have sinned in my father’s eyes, the humiliation I have put him through, how could he have compassion for me? He said I will think about it. But dad never told me about this conversation with them.
I do not recall, maybe two weeks later, I was in the back woods taking a load up to Bill Manson house; I could not wait to get home. On the way back I had to close my eyes and blink, because there were about forty cars by the house, what was going on? I parked the truck and went to the back window of the house. When I looked in, there were Andrew and Dad; they were hugging each other. The hate that came over me was for my father, not Andrew. How could he do this to me? Why should we take him back?
Another car came down the road. It was Pastor Raymond with the bible in his hand. He ran pass me and grabbed my hand and pulled me in. Here I was with all this hate in me, in front of all these people around me. They were all laughing except for the “holier than thou”. We all became very quiet. The pastor said please sit down, he took out his bible. He said to me, why are you angry? To the others he said, you have mocked and slandered this family. What has happened here is a testimony for us to learn from the word of our father. And he began to read (Luke 15:11-32) the parable of the prodigal son. I awoke with a great conviction in my heart. As I sat by the window I cried out, forgive me Lord, forgive me. My brother came home to my father. I was just as guilty as my brother, forgive me Lord. (If there is no forgiveness of sin and no reconciliation, your sin is not forgiven.) Amen.
Frank Ferrera Sr.