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.