I was a mess in college. I was away from home for the first time, reeling from my parents’ divorce, and very new to my faith in Christ. My first roommate’s family gave me a home and family away from home. I probably needed to know I was “officially accepted” more in those few years than in any time since.
Today I’m grieving with that adopted family and saying good-bye to the man who became my second “Daddy.” I think the day I will remember most is the one in which I went to the bank to deal with a bounced check, and, in my distress about being broke, locked my keys in my car. It was freezing cold that day, at least to a Florida girl. This was before cell phones, so I slunk back into the bank and called Mr. Mizelle. He happened to be home — just about a mile away — and he came to rescue me in just a few minutes. I remember that I expected him to be exasperated, but as I told him about bouncing the check and then locking my keys in the car, I started to cry, and he just smiled and hugged me. Even in the moment, I realized that he really did love me, and that helped me be a little bit less of a mess.
I’ll remember him listening to talk radio and arguing over the Sunday talk shows. I’ll remember his ball cap and chewing tobacco and East Virginia way of talking. I’ll remember visiting his office in the Coliseum and learning more about peanuts than I knew there was to learn. I’ll remember the twinkle in his eye as he laughed with his family. And I’ll remember the day this good man offered “official acceptance” to a cold, scared, sad girl who needed a Daddy.