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Long Lost Judy 2

Johnny Jones, 24 January 2003

Long Lost Judy 1. Last week I told you about how Michael Knight found his long-lost sister - how they had plans to meet for the first time when he was at the half-century mark, and she was 66. A lot of gaps in Michael's life were filled in as a result of the meeting. Here is what he said:

It was clear that I was edgy and irritable on Monday as I was anticipating what was to happen the next day. I spent a mostly sleepless night in Norman, Oklahoma.

We got up on Tuesday and hit the road towards Texas. There I was, traveling down a road I had wanted to travel many times in my past - the road that would lead to my sister's house - a house where I had never been, to meet with someone I had never met before, yet someone I with whom I would have a lot in common. What would she be like? How had life turned out for her? What was life like for her with my father? Would my sister be bitter about life or about our father, who had left her mother and married mine? Would she be resentful towards me for any reason? Would she be a Christian? Would she be a part of a church family somewhere? A lot was on my mind as I got closer and closer to her home in Plano Texas.

Finally we rang her doorbell at 1:00 on Tuesday afternoon. We were greeted by two of the finest and nicest people we had ever met, Judy and Hoyt, her husband. Over the next several hours and on into the evening we enjoyed one another's company, and I learned a lot about my father.

Not all of it was pleasant.

Much of what I learned was from Gladys, Judy's mother, and my father's first wife, whom he divorced in 1948.

I was glad to learn that Judy, Gladys, and Hoyt are all Christians and faithfully involved in Baptist churches.

But some of what I learned about my father has been unsettling and painful to me.

I always thought of my Dad as a hard-working, hard-drinking, good-timing man who had made some mistakes that had affected his life.

But I learned that the man I knew in his late 40's, 50's and 60's was a mellowed-out version of what he had been earlier in his life.

I learned that my father had inherited some wealth, then wasted it. I learned that, at one time, he had four dry-cleaning businesses, then lost them. I learned that he had a college education and a responsible profession and then squandered it. I learned that my father had a wonderful wife who loved him dearly. I learned that my father physically and verbally abused his children. I learned that my father was married to and divorced from Gladys three times.

Gladys said he was a fancy dresser and had beautiful eyes. "I fell in love with his beautiful eyes." She also said, "I never loved anyone like I loved Harry Knight." When they first married, he was 27 and she was 16.

Gladys kept taking my Dad back until one day she realized that she and the girls would be better off without him. I learned that my Dad would be gone for weeks at a time from his family, pursuing his favorite past times of alcohol, gambling, and women. I learned that my father was cruel, mean, abusive, and selfish. He was a user and a manipulator, and he wound up hurting a lot of people in his life.

And from 1948, when they divorced, until his death in 1981 at the age of 76, he had virtually no contact with his two wonderful daughters.

I was shocked to learn that at his father's funeral in 1958, which Gladys and her two children attended - at the funeral dinner, my father approached his ex-wife and asked her to take him back for the 4th time. I was 6 years old, and my brother was 9.

Gladys said no, that she could never be a part of hurting those two boys, Harry's sons, as her ex-husband had hurt their two daughters. I owed a debt of gratitude to Gladys Knight for keeping my family together!

Was it worth it to learn these hurtful things, to go through the process of meeting a new family, to go to all the trouble? Even with all the pain, meeting my sister and her husband and mother was well worth it. We are now part of one another's life. We send Christmas gifts. We're family. It feels good.

In fact, if there are any loose ends, any family members you need to meet, I want to highly recommend that you meet them. Meeting my sister brought me a lot of joy, and helped things in my life make sense. I am so glad We met.

I believe this says that, even when truth is painful, it often sheds light. God uses truth for His purposes.