Last week, I was privileged to read a post by Sarah of "Emerging Mummy" over on the website of SHE magazine, a favorite new ezine I'm reading a lot these days. In that post, titled "Let's Write a Line for the Good Man," she paid tribute to her father in a moving and eloquent way. And she invited her readers to write a 'good line' for dads they knew when they commented. I took that opportunity to write the following memory piece about my good father and found it to be an almost cathartic experience. It helped me to get back in touch with the Dad I knew for most of my life and to move beyond the grief and pain of his last few years on the planet. I'm posting it here so that I have a record of it on my own blog.
I am missing my dad today. He’s been gone for six years and the hole in my spirit is still pretty dang big. He loved me from the moment I was born – and I always, always knew that. I have a letter in his handwriting that I treasure, written to his sister after I was born and it is exquisite in its tender wonder at this gift in his life. There is no substitute for knowing this reality as you grow up: that YOU are your dad’s best gift.
He was a quiet man, a brilliant man and a good man. He had huge hands, which he used to play the piano, to ‘fix’ things that were broken (including my heart more than once), to build killer campfires, to write a textbook (on statistics, of all things…I am most definitely NOT my father’s daughter in this respect) and to love my mom, me and my brothers with careful, gentle affectionate touch.
He loved ribald humor (especially British humor), butter on his bread (which was always white, not wheat), well-thought out biblical teaching (with absolutely NO tolerance for ‘fluff,’ simplistic sermons or over-spiritualizing of any kind), music of many different styles (I can still see him ‘conducting’ opera or symphony while listening to LPs checked out of the local library – and he learned to play Sondheim and Lloyd Webber in his old age, and to play it beautifully). And he loved my mother. He really, really loved my mother. And what a gift that was to a girl child growing up in the 50′s and 60′s.
When I entered seminary at mid-life, he was a bit puzzled but cheered me on. When he came to hear the first sermon I ever preached, he was overwhelmed with pride and joy, poking my mom in the ribs and exclaiming, “That’s the best Advent sermon I’ve ever heard in my life.” Just a bit of an overstatement – but exactly what his daughter’s heart needed to hear that nervous day.
I blogged this week about the sadness that came with illness and old age, the loss of this good man by pieces. But today, I just want to thank God and to thank you for helping me to remember the best parts of being his daughter. I used to think my testimony story was boring, even unimportant, because there was nothing startling or dramatic about it. I have lived long enough now to fully embrace the truth that my story is gift, pure and simple. A gift of grace and undying love, modeled in my home as I grew up.
So in the middle of missing him today, I am filled with gratitude for who he was and how he helped to form me, how he guided and encouraged my husband, and how beautifully he loved my kids and my older grandkids. Thank you for the invitation to reflect, Sarah. Thank you.