August 19, 2023 marked a pivotal milestone journey towards healing. I carried a weighty burden of inner turmoil, stemming from the absence of a fatherly presence in my life prior to this. Those feelings of inadequacy led me to believe that I was unworthy of unconditional love, except from God and my Granny. However, this event served as an awakening, revealing the profound impact of a guiding figure who had been by my side all along, Terry Westry, affectionately known as Pop.
Terry's entry into my life at the tender age of 9-years-old marked the beginning of a transformative relationship. His initial interest in me gradually evolved into a genuine parental affection. His guidance played a pivotal role in shaping crucial decisions, from selecting a college and major to rescuing me from potential expulsion. Despite the significant role he played, an internal struggle within me built a self-imposed barrier between us. Terry's patient understanding was a testament to his wisdom. He recognized that my challenges were a reflection of my own internal battles rather than a response to his actions or inactions.
As my personal journey unfolded, a new chapter began with the publication of my second children’s and young adults book, "Joy Comes: A Story of Fatherhood," on July 15, 2023. Beyond its intention to inspire single parents and their children, this work resonated deeply with my own heart, providing unexpected healing. Sharing this book with the world felt like shedding a lifetime of personal burdens. This newfound freedom coincided with my acceptance of Terry's long-standing invitation to join him as his eldest son at his family reunion. Past reservations had held me back, but my healing journey aligned with perfect timing, allowing me to witness Terry's recognition as the Committee Chair of the Westry/Westray Family Reunion. You can watch the replay by going here. Furthermore, I reveled in the joy of bonding with my youngest brother and sister, sharing laughter, hugs, and cherished moments. It was a momentous occasion that included introducing them to my wife.
Addressing Terry as Pop is a testament to the gratitude and love that I hold for him. His unwavering love and patience spanned 36 years, culminating in my full acceptance of his presence and support. This revelation serves as a testament to the transformative power of age, wisdom, and healing.
I extend my gratitude to Terry for embracing not only me but also my wife, Vanessa, and our daughter, Haelee. I apologize for the delay in fully embracing your love, and I am thankful for your unending patience and open heart. This journey of acceptance and healing is a tribute to the power of love and the profound impact of a fatherly figure's presence in one's life. I pray that Joy Comes can bring healing to those of you that are reading this as well.