It is Father's Day, Dad. I've been thinking a lot about you lately as this holiday had been drawing near. I've been remembering some of the times we spent together and some of the things you taught me.
Do you remember the time I was in middle school and you were driving me home? I was complaining and sassing and just having an all-around ugly attitude. You sat silently, driving the truck, while I went on a teenage hormone infused rant about the unfairness of life. When we turned onto the gravel road that we lived on, you quietly pulled over and told me to get out. You suggested that I use the time it would take me to walk the mile and a half down the dusty road to our house to think about all of the things I had to be grateful for. Then you drove away and I was left to start walking and thinking.
That was a good one, Dad. I used that recently on my teen age son while I slowly drove behind him as he walked the block and a half to basketball camp after he gave a particularly surly tirade about my driving and time management skills. He was right, but he was disrespectful. You weren't a fan of disrespect. I guess the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Thanks for teaching me to be grateful and to be respectful.
Do you remember that time I was a 20-year-old newlywed and had made a string of really bad choices that had turned my life from good to bad very quickly? I was in a tail spin and had pushed everyone that I loved away so that I could just keep on going on down the slippery slope I was on without having to hear from everyone what a mess I was making of things.
In the midst of all of that, you drove an hour up to see me. We went to a park and we just sat side by side in the grass. You didn't ask all of the details. You didn’t blame, condemn, or shame me, but you didn’t coddle me either. You lovingly and firmly told me that I couldn’t ride the fence between teenager and adult any more. You made me take responsibility for my decisions and called me out to make a choice to be better than I had been. You were a rock for me when things were in chaos.
That was another good one, Dad. You always had a way of knowing just what to say and how to say it. It was just the kick in the pants that I needed to see what a train wreck that I was. I am already trying to teach my boys how to own up to their mistakes and look at the consequences of their choices. I hope I never have to help my kids really see and understand the mess they've made of their life, but I’m filing this little memory in the mental rolodex of stellar parenting moves just in case because it meant the world to me.
Don't forget about the time I came home at nearly 30 because marriage and family were so much harder than I ever imagined they would be. I wasn’t sure how on earth I was supposed to do and be all that I was supposed to do and be. I sat curled up on the couch in your living room tearfully telling you how things were just too hard sometimes. You sat across from me, wrapped in a blanket in your favorite recliner, and shared some of the times that you had felt the same way. We laughed and we cried and then we watched Gunsmoke.
I’m going to remember that one too, Dad. I know there will come a time when my boys will feel overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities and will need a soft place to land. They will want me to nod my head in agreement and then comfort them with some quality time together. I want to remember to always be that place that they can come back to when they need encouragement. Thank you for teaching me to take the time to listen and to care.
I won't ever forget how hard you worked when you were in physical therapy all of those months. You would get so frustrated at having to learn to do things that were once so simple for you. You hated having to re learn how to pick up a spoon. Learning to walk again was so difficult, but you kept pushing until you got it. I've never seen perseverance like that before.
That was amazing, Dad. My boys were right there. They watched you try and fail and never give up. You taught them about hope and hard work and fighting through every obstacle.
We probably looked a little crazy that one day when the boys and I were down sitting with you when you were really sick. I was making Christmas ornaments out of paper and hot glue. It was ridiculous. It took forever and I was constantly burning my fingers. You just sat in your wheel chair and giggled at me as I growled and rolled my eyes. After a few hours I had made a handful of beautiful ornaments to hang in the booth I was renting at a local antique mall. You relentlessly teased me about all of that time and labor plus the money I would need to spend on band aids for my fingers. We both got tickled when you said that I would only end up making about a quarter an hour after all of that. We laughed until we cried as we looked at my poor blistered fingers and the piles of supplies around me.
That was a good one, Dad. That still makes me smile. Thanks for teaching me to laugh at myself. You could always take any situation and make it a reason to smile. I loved that about you. My boys are going to need to know that they don’t always have to take themselves so seriously.
You passed away before Christmas that year and I hung one of those paper ornaments on my tree last Christmas to mark the second Christmas that you had been gone. I miss you every day, but especially on Father’s Day. You were such a good man.
There are so many stories, Dad. There were so many little things that made you so special. The thing that stands out the very most was how much you loved me. You loved me when you didn’t have to and you loved me when I was very hard to love.
You weren’t my biological father. You married my mom and automatically became a step parent to a child who wasn’t entirely sure she needed or wanted you around and wasn't afraid to make that abundantly clear. Despite all the ways that I pushed you away, there was never a single moment that I felt like anything other than your dearly loved daughter. Even when I was too young and too immature to see it, even when I doubted it, even when I didn’t understand it, you were always pouring you heart and soul into loving me as best as you could.
Out of all the things that I remember, Dad, that is the thing I will remember most. I always knew that I was unconditionally loved. That is also the thing that I most want to pass down to my children. It taught me about accepting a love that I did nothing to earn and didn’t really deserve. Your love for me opened the door for me to begin to understand the kind of love God has for me. I want to show that kind of love to my boys every day.
Thank you Dad. That was a good one.
Happy Father's Day. I miss and love you more than you know.
Love and Blessings,
Happy Father’s Day to all of you dads out there. May your day be filled with love and may you leave a strong legacy for your children.