5 years ago my dad passed away, leaving behind a loving wife, 11 kids, many in law children and a ton of grandkids. I have spent the last few years trying to cling to what he left behind. I am going to be honest in this post- I didn’t have a super close relationship to my dad. As a young child I was mostly nervous and awkward around him, and sadly that awkwardness continued into a lot of my adult hood. My Dad a lot of times seemed unreachable to me. Was it his gruff nature, or my highly sensitive spirit, wounded a time or two by that gruffness that caused us to never totally connect? I will never know and I don’t really have any desire to spend my life in regret. Instead I want to focus on the many gifts that my father did give me. Because my dad, though an imperfect and complicated man, greatly enriched my life and shaped me into who I am today. And so I don’t want to do him the dishonor of wishing he had been something he wasn’t, instead I hope to always remember who my dad was.
My dad was kind of a smart *aleck. He always had some wise saying in response to his kids, in fact we wrote a whole book about it. For his last Christmas my siblings and I put together a book called Sh*t my dad says and gifted it to him. It was the last time I got the privilege of hearing my dads true and honest belly laughter. my dad didn’t laugh often but when he did, you just sat and basked in it. Here is some of the examples from the book. When he asked if you did your homework and you dared to answer “I think so”, you might get something back like. “Well you know what Art thought… Art thought he had to fart but he didn’t…” Of if you said “I am sorry but…” you would most likely be cut off with “All that follows a but is a pile of shit”
My dad was a rock and a “Steady Eddy”– my dad moved into his farmhouse in Ridgefield in 1980 and only moved on when he was called home. You could always count on stopping by Carty road and finding my dad in his recliner with the newspaper in a pile beside him. He made sure all of his children had a place to call home, even when there was kids and chaos constantly. Sometimes I wished he would travel more and use the flight benefits I provided him. But now looking back I see what a blessing it was to know that dad was always there right where he wanted to be, Home.
My dad was wise– He was always teaching us lessons in his own way. Sometimes it was a wisdom hidden in his silly sayings. It really is true, if you are saying sorry but…, all that follows really is a pile of crap! And this pops in my head when I am about to make a lame attempt at a not very genuine apology. He was always there for advice and help for his grown children. I miss him so much now that I am building. I just wanna be able to stop by dad’s and ask questions, and have him walk my property with me and give me advice. I am sad that he died before I ever really got to grow closer to him in this way, like some of my siblings.
My dad loved unconditionally – This is what i am most grateful for in my dad. He loved his kids as much through the bad times as through the good. I remember there was a time when I came home to visit from Seattle. My dad had heard that I was making some unwise choices and asked me to sit at the kitchen table and talk to him. He opened up to me and shared his concerns. I will never ever forget that as he stood to leave, his eyes filled with tears, and he hugged me (for the first real hug I remember). And he said, “I know I don’t always show it, but I love, worry and pray for all you kids and grandkids so much.” That is my moment. The moment that i hold absolutely most dear with my dad. In that moment his gruff exterior fell down, and I saw his love for us all pouring out of his eyes, Even though I was at my worst and most unlovable. And there I saw the heavenly father, who loves us in spite of who we are. And though we hurt him and depart from his will for us, He sits waiting with a heart over flowing with love. The door to his home is always open and his arms waiting to welcome us back.
So my dad might not have done all the things that other dad’s do. He may not have taken us on father daughter dates, or gave us curfews, or talked with us late into the night. But he did what matters, he was Jesus to me when I needed it most. He showed me a small glimpse of the love and grace God holds for each of us. And what a freedom and security I had to know that nothing I could do, no mistake I could make, could change the love of either father for his daughter. And so my dad was love. He was grace. He was forgiveness. And I was so blessed to be his daughter.
This has been week 42 in the gratitude challenge, topic fathers. http://chocolateglazedlife.com/2015/09/thankful-thursday-day-1/.