Sunday, June 15, 2008

and takes away

Father's Day is not my favorite holiday. It never has been, but in the 10 years since my father died, it has been a day that varies in it's emotions. Sometimes I am ripped apart with loss, other times it is more mellow. Sometimes it aches, other times I am blessed with the sweetness of a Lord who loves us in our hurts.

My dad was my sun. He was the sunshine in my day. He brought a smile, a hug, an intelligent thought and a silly saying to my world. Were you one of those kids embarrassed by your dad? I was, from the ages of about 10-13. But when I was 13, my friend Lindy, who's dad had long since disappeared, told me that I should be content with what I had. That changed my world. It was profound. No longer did I duck my head when my dad would help me pick out Maxi-pads (the man wanted to know why wings were so important) or when he would gun our cheap little car in the parking lot picking me up from Flag practice. I started smiling and saying "that's my dad."

My dad loved not only me, but anyone I brought in the house. He would give Lindy special attention. He took in another friend, Will, and talked with him for hours about his writing ambitions. Will's dad had left, and his mom had flaked out and Will was living in his car, but my dad reached out and offered something Will was missing out on. Everyone should have a parent that is proud of them and their accomplishments, and my dad was that man for Will. He was like that for everyone who needed, wanted, and came with open hands.

When my dad told our small town he was sick, the town rallied around us. People came to pray, to offer strength and support. He would smile and offer THEM comfort. He was so at peace with his fate. The Lord gave him a spirit to accept his disease and love what it did for our family and town. His leukemia restored his relationship with my rebellious brother, allowed others to face their own losses and let our family embrace the time we had with each other.

I remember the last time I saw my dad. I came home from college for fall break and my dad had been in hospital for a couple days. He was home and looked so good, so healthy. I was sitting on the couch and my dad was in his favorite recliner. Whatever I was reading made me cry and I crawled into my dad's lap. Keep in mind I am 20 and sitting on his lap. But that was our thing...when I needed him, that's where comfort was found. In his lap. The time I didn't get yearbook editor, or our grandpa died, or when that friend was mean to me. In his lap, rocked safe in his arms. I rocked one last time and held on to him and said goodbye.

Three weeks later he was gone.

The memorial service was very interesting. We were expecting lots of people, but even we were amazed. My old teachers showed up, kids from my youth group, Hardee's workers where he had coffee every morning, his patients, friends and strangers. You couldn't find a place to sit. We sang "I'll Fly Away," and let him go to glory.

I take with me every memory of his laughter, his generosity, his intelligence, his drive, his gentleness, his curiousity, and his love for us.

I also took this.

In the 10 years since he died I have grown up, graduated college, bought a car, met Charlie and got married. I have felt his absence acutely at times. Father's Day does that, so does his birthday. Sometimes it's like he right with me, helping me change that tire, or rake the yard. Other times it's like I'm lost and I can't find my way home.

But, I have the recliner. When I am sad, I sit in it (I am crying as I type, so you can bet as soon as I publish, I'll be there) and I rock. I plan to rock my babies in it. And my teenagers. And I will talk about their grandpa who they never got a chance to know and tell them stories of his silliness and his love for me. It's what allows me to love their father and what gives me the strength to figure this infertility out.

I know, some of you may think that God should be all those things to me. And He is. But who I am to argue that my Father gave me my father as an example of how He loves? Does that make sense? I know to trust Him implicity because I was given an earthly father who showed me how Jesus does it.

There doesn't seem to be an eloquent way to wrap this up, and I am sorry if I have bummed anyone out. That wasn't my intention. I just wanted to share, that even in my hurts, my sadness, my loss, I can still see who God is. I was able to praise Him in my father's death, and I can praise Him now. In this storm of emotions.

I will praise the One who gives, and takes away.


Hunny Bee May said...

You're post made me tear up, Sissy. It was beautiful. I never knew my dad so Father's Day was always sort of weird for me. Now that I have a f.i.l. and my hubby is a dad, it's different. I have something to focus on and a reason to enjoy the holiday. I think you are very lucky that you got a great dad for the time that you did and I can see why you miss him so much. He sounds like he was a wonderful man. Have a blessed day!

The Roost'er said...

Ah, Sissy. What a tribute you gave to your dad this Father's Day. As parents, we are to provide the earthly example of Christ to our children - you explicitly wrote of that regarding your own father. What a gift. One day, you WILL be able to see this day differently. Although I honor my father's memory as I can, he was not a good earthly dad. But, Father's Day is different now because I see my husband as the father of our children and it is a beautiful thing. Days like today are difficult when you are trying so hard to get to 'this side' of it. But I know you will get there. You have your dad's legacy to share...and until then, I thank you for sharing it with us.

(I hope that made sense.)

Becky said...

That was a beautiful tribute to your father and the wonderful legacy he left.

Jennifer P. said...

As a fellow dadless blogger, I am crying right along with you. I lost my dad when I was 4, so I have very few precious memories of him---but the way your dad dealt with his illness was my mom to a tee. It's so hard to be the ones left behind, isn't it?

I'm sure your dad is smiling down on such sweet words written about him, and I truly hope you were blessed to feel his presence nearby today.

Love and hugs to you!

Alison said...

That was a wonderful tribute to your dad. He was such a funny guy and I can see why you miss him so much.
To this day I still dry my legs in an upward motion because I remember him telling us that it would prevent varicose veins. Seems like an odd thing to tell two 15 year olds, but hey, I still remember it! And apply that advice daily.

Big hugs,

Heather said...

What a wonderful dad. I know you miss him, Sissy, and I wish he was still here for you to rock with. His chair probably brings you comfort, though, and he's rocking with you every time, sweetie. You know that.

emily said...

Tearing up my foot. I'm BAWLING like a baby. What a beautiful, heartfelt, vulnerable post about your Dad. Over the years when November approaches, I feel like I have gotten to know him a bit as you have spoken of him as you remember his last days as well as the many wonderful years you had with him. I think every daddy's wish is that their daughter will look to them as you have looked to yours.

Thank you for sharing him with us.

Sarah said...

What a beautiful post, Sissy. Your dad sounds like an amazing man. I am sure it is a huge mix of emotions to remember with love and to wish things were different. I am so sorry you lost him so early. Thank you for was beautiful.

Kat said...

What a moving tribute. My father died very unexpectedly two years ago...and I still think about him *every* day. And even though he was here to see me marry...see my girls...I can still easily get choked up thinking about him. BUT I know he is my angel in mom' daughters...and I know he's with us.

marykay said...

I am visiting from Nesting Place and wanted to tell you how that touched my heart. He must have been very special. Enjoy his rocker and the memories he gave you.

Rebekah said...

Your dad sounds a lot like my dad. My dad was a dad to all my friends. People were always stopping in to get his advise. His funeral service was packed. One person flew across the country for the service and then left right after- what a testimony to the life of my Dad.

I always knew that my Dad's lap was a safe place. The love my Dad had for me was an example of the love of Christ.

Im all teary eyed now- but thanks for bringing the tears.
Have a great day

HeathahLee said...

What a beautiful tribute. I'm so glad I scrolled down to read it. You were a very lucky dad and I know we love each other but are not close. He lives 20 minutes from me and I see and talk to him less than I see my mom, who lives 1 1/2 hours away. Treasure those memories!