January 19, 2015, marked the 13th anniversary of the passing of my Daddy. Below was my Facebook post:
On this day 13 years ago, my Daddy passed away unexpectedly. The world lost a charming and charismatic man who never met a stranger and would stop to help anyone in need. Those of us who knew him and loved him lost much more. He taught me so much, the best thing being the power of forgiveness, that I didn’t even fully understand until after he was gone. Though I miss him everyday, my sadness is filled with beautiful memories. Love you forever, Daddy!
— at My wedding rehearsal – 8/26/1988 – Loved his green pants and madras tie.
William Francis Campbell was born on October 23, 1936 in Staunton, Virginia to Sadie Mae Campbell, a young, single mother. Daddy was raised by Sadie Mae and his Grandmother, Cammie. They adored him and spoiled him with love and affection. He met and dated my Mother, Barbara Anne Cash, while they were very young teenagers. Though a very smart man, my Dad did not enjoy school and joined the Navy, finding out early on that he preferred to be self-educated by life. On a weekend leave on December 8, 1955, my parents eloped to Reidsville, North Carolina and were married by a justice of the peace. Daddy was 19 and Momma was 17. Oh my gosh, I can’t even imagine. Even though I was driving, I think I might still have been playing with dolls at 17. Well, no, not really, but who gets married at SEVENTEEN? Barbara and Frankie (as he was called by family) did…and so our story began. I was born on October 17, 1956 while Daddy was still in the Navy. He was stationed in Turkey during the time and they let him come home to see me. I remember a doll that he brought back with him from overseas, she was beautifully dressed. It was at my grandparents house for years, however, unfortunately, I have no idea what happened to it and that makes me sad.
Growing up – I have a sister, and siblings fight, fuss, argue, tell on one another and more. My Dad didn’t like confrontation and encouraged us – first of all – to get along – and secondly – to ALWAYS make up and apologize. He not only encouraged that we do it, he led by example. I can’t tell you the number of times my Dad made me angry, or hurt my feelings – we’re human beings so we’re going to disagree. But whenever he did and regardless of how upset we were, he always apologized and forgave – and he always did so first – before I could even think about apologizing. Of course I didn’t pay that much attention to it when I was younger, but as you get older and wiser it was a lesson well-learned and something that stands out about him to this day. However, it wasn’t until he passed away that I learned the real meaning of his example of forgiveness. We learned after his death that he had fathered a child with another woman. I was shocked, hurt, angry and disappointed when I found out. After finding out more details, it is said that he apparently didn’t realize he had a son until many years later. He supposedly did not deny it, but was concerned that “his girls” not know. His girls being my Mom, my sister Cindy and myself. We also learned that this boy arranged several times to meet my Daddy, which my Dad agreed to, however, due to meeting changes, conflicts with both of their schedules and ultimately my Dad’s untimely passing, the two never met. We found this out seven years after his death. As I was dealing with all of this and trying to decide how I felt, I realized that this happened when he was a mere 26 years old. And although he was a married man with two daughters, who had served his country, provided for us and knew the circumstances, he was still a very young man. I thought about myself and others at 26, but knowing he never denied his role in this occurrence and that he was so concerned about what we would think of him, made my process of forgiveness easier. I could still see him coming to me through the years with love and hugs and saying, “I’m sorry.” And I remember how warm and loved that made me feel when he did it. Yes, I’m still confused by the situation, but I love my Dad and have forgiven him. Cindy and I, along with our families, met the son several years ago. I’m glad we did, but ultimately, we decided that we really couldn’t have a relationship with him.