“I hope I’m doing okay at what God still has me here for… I pray a lot… but there’s not much else I can do.” Rocking on the back porch looking out at the marsh, Dad softly voiced his heart as mine quietly responded with admiration and sadness. Later, I scribbled his words to paper, adding: May 2010, age 85.
Dad and I covered a lot of territory in those rocking chairs. Due to foot problems, long walks weren’t an option, so late afternoons on the deck were a daily ritual when I visited. I treasured this time with him – identifying shapes in the clouds, teasing, laughing, sharing and inevitably, Dad holding forth about something.
It wasn’t always like that for us. The panoramic view of our relationship includes some really hard times. By the grace of God we pressed through. I tried and he tried. He prayed and I prayed. All the while, God held us both, molding individuals and shaping a daddy-daughter relationship that would be uniquely ours.
In mid-November my sweet “Daddio” went to be with the Lord. He was 90. I loved him deeply…and I’m so grateful that God gave me Dad to be my dad.
When I think about Dad, I don’t see segments of our relationship. I see the whole picture. His impact on me and to me. He loved our family with everything he had in him. He gave us himself. He poured out all that he knew and all that he learned along the way. He was a life-long learner, as a disciple of Jesus and as a man who knew he was privileged to be a husband and a dad. He taught me to persevere, to give-it-all-I’ve-got, to live thankful to God, to be humble. He lived what he taught. He demonstrated that forgiveness includes laying down the offense and moving forward. He knew he needed God.
One fascination that swells my heart with gratitude and awe to God is how He continued to significantly enrich our relationship even in Dad’s last years through the simplest conversations. Our phone calls often covered the same questions – How are you? How’s Terrell? Followed by inquiry about each of the kids…Then he’d share about his weekly lunch with a friend, errands he and mom had run, the weather or doctor appointments. Usually, somewhere in the space of all those words, a heart-thought would spill out and the other of us would respond. Still, God was growing “us”.
Our story is unique, as is yours. I cherish the whole thing – great memories and great challenges – and the beautiful things God grew through them.