Published in the Rains County Leader on June 21, 2016:
Dad has been in Heaven for five years, but I still miss him and think about him a lot. He’s especially on my mind in June when there is so much emphasis on fathers, so in honor of the special day we just celebrated, I want to share some of my favorite memories of the man I called Daddy.
- I was Daddy’s girl, especially when I was little. When he went anywhere, I wanted to go with him. In the time before seat belts and child seats, he was my child restraint system. I remember standing beside him, tucked “safely” behind his right shoulder. As shocking as that may be to our safety conscious society, I felt completely safe and lovingly protected.
- Another of my favorite memories is something that today’s children, strapped and restrained as they are, will never experience. From time to time, he would let me sit in his lap and drive the car. Of course, all I was doing was holding onto the steering wheel while he continued to be in complete control. Still, it was fun, it was a great confidence builder, and it was great practice for my later life as a Christian when I finally realized who is really in control.
- I loved going to work with Daddy. The first job I remember was at a lumber yard, and when Mom would take his lunch to him, my brother Jim and I would go climb on the stacks of lumber. Later, he took a job at the Post Office, and he sometimes picked me up from school. While he cased his mail for the next day, I’d sit on a stool at a work table and practice my letters or put my fingers through the air holes in the crates of baby chicks and pet their fuzzy yellow feathers. I’m sure we broke lots of OSHA and Federal regulations, but being a real part of his life was worth being a bit of an outlaw.
- A friend once told me that, when God made me, He forgot to put in the higher gears. I’m not sure exactly what she meant, but perhaps she was referring to my tendency to nod off in either a car or a church. In the early years, as soon as the sermon began, I put my head in Daddy’s lap and went to sleep. Sometimes, though, I stayed awake and sat in his lap. I amused myself, and totally ruined his ability to concentrate, by playing with his tie. I would begin at the bottom, roll it up to the knot, and release it. After it rolled out to its full length, I repeated the process. Maybe that’s why, for every gift-giving occasion, I gave him a tie.
- When I was five, we moved into a house where I had my own bedroom. Until then, I had slept in a crib in my parents’ room or shared a bed with Jim in the living room. For a few months, I had occasional sleep-walking episodes during which I assume I was looking for companionship. Several times I woke up sitting on the side of Mom and Dad’s bed with Daddy sitting beside me, his eyes full of sleep and his hair standing on end, trying to stop the flow of my tears and reassuring me that everything was okay.
I also jotted down five memories of how Daddy provided support and practical aid later in my life when I was single again. Before I completely exceed my allotted word count, I’ll summarize:
- He often hung curtains and pictures, installed ceiling fans, and finished many other things on my “I don’t have a honey to do” list.
- In addition to caring for his own yard, he mowed, trimmed, and edged mine. He also removed and disposed of tomato worms that tried to take over my patio tomatoes.
- Although he wasn’t in a position to offer financial assistance, he didn’t hesitate to co-sign a note when my old car bit the dust.
- Daddy always had a key to my house, and more than once he got up out of bed and came over to unlock my door when I locked myself out.
- Daddy showed me how a godly man should love his wife. His love for Mom was one of
the defining realities of his life. He loved her as Paul told the Ephesians to love their wives and would have given up his life for her. He told her every day how beautiful she was and how much he loved her, and he never tired of kissing her or holding her hand.
There’s much more, but these are a few of the things that added up to a lifetime of love and care. Daddy led by example and loved by acts of service. Happy Father’s Day to the first man I ever loved.
A LONG AND WINDING ROAD: A Caregiver’s Tale of Life, Love, and Chaos