iBelieve

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:24

Archive for the tag “Dad”

Like Peeling an Onion


Today is Father’s Day. I can say the simple phrase that many people can voice with me, “I miss my dad.” But this phrase packs a lot within and it really is not a simple phrase. Sort of like peeling an onion, there is so much more to the phrase.

Let me peel about my dad.

Outer layer, I miss my dad; he’s been in heaven since 2009. He worked hard at his job and he worked hard caring for his wife and kids. He loved my mom and that is the most important example he could share with all five of his children. Mom and dad bickered a lot but they were both perfectionists who would approach a process differently but always end up with the same outcome. I don’t think they ever went to bed angry at each other. Another valuable life lesson from both of them. Sadly, my first marriage was nothing like theirs and it fell apart quickly. Dad stood by me through that difficult time; never judging, but always supporting me.

The second layer, he loved his kids. He never belittled us. His conversations with us were always positive words and he was lovingly stern so we would turn out to be respectful adults. My siblings and I are high-functioning people. He was always goofing around with us too. He’d be in the back yard with my brothers and me as we played basketball. He had a famous “hook shot” which I picked up and made as my famous shot when I play basketball with my nephews. The hook shot is a lifesaver when we play a game of Horse.

The next layer includes the grandkids of which he was blessed with many thanks to one sister and one brother. He went by the name “Gramps” and it still sticks when we talk about him. He loved each grandchild and treated them so kindly. He used to slip bingo winnings into the hands of my niece and nephew when they lived with my parents for a short time. He put up a small basketball hoop on the side of the garage much lower than normal because my nephew used to play basketball like the big kids. And, he was really good for such a little guy. Of the great-grandkids he got to meet, he showered the exact same love, but his health was failing and he could not do as much with them. However, his love was evident. Always giving of himself.

In the next layer I remember a back-and-forth conversation with the neighbor kid, you know, the one where you say, “My dad could beat up your dad”. Thinking back to the other dad, yes, I bet my dad could have whooped him, but in truth, my dad was friends with everyone. I never saw him fight, nor did I hear him bad-mouth anyone. In fact, I was invited many times to run errands with him and in the course of each trip, he would talk with everyone he met as he seemed to know at least one person at each errand. I commented to him that everyone likes him. He assured me that was not true, and in my youth I did not comprehend that we cannot be liked by everyone, but he didn’t explain it. I had to learn that lesson on my own. Not everyone was his friend, but he treated everyone equally with kindness. What a beautiful life-lesson and I am thankful for the invite to go on errands.

The next layer, he was a devoted son. His dad was a watchmaker and when he needed parts, my dad would have to walk, after school, to get what he needed, bring it back home and head out to baseball practice or a game. My grandma would make dinner and leave him a plate and even though it was late he always cleaned up after himself. I clearly remember him jumping up from our dinner table to begin doing the dishes after a meal my mom cooked for the family. Dad was aware of what was important to others and a clean kitchen was important to my mom.

Getting deeper into the onion, my dad thought he felt called to be a Priest. Obviously that did not pan out as I am here today blogging about him. But his Catholic faith was important to him; my parents saw to it that we all attended Catholic school. Those years have planted Holy Spirit seeds in my heart and the love for the Trinity has sprouted within me.

He also was a very good baseball player; a pitcher actually. He tried out for the Detroit Tigers one time, but realized that his shoulder was not built for the majors. Instead he coached my brothers’ little league teams.

Can we talk aim for a second? That man had an eye for a straight line whether it was baseball, horseshoes, basketball, or those, heaven-forbid, pointy lawn jarts. He had an aim that kept him a winner much of the time.

At the core of my dad, he loved. He loved his country and it was evident when he quit school at the age of 17 to join the Navy during WWII. I regret not remembering much about his stories of his Navy days but I am fortunate to be the holder of his photo album from that period in his life. He was a handsome Sailor. At the conclusion of his church funeral, the Honor Guard performed a service of their own for their fallen comrade. They removed the flag that covered his casket, folded it and presented it to my mom. Someone snapped the most precious photo of that flag transfer and the look on my mom’s face was priceless. She was proud of my dad and was honored to hold his flag. The bugler began playing taps and that is where we all shed some heavy tears.

Truly cutting into an onion gets the eyes to water; thinking about my dad has the same effect. I miss my dad.

Late Night Visitor – Gone Fishin’


When I was a child, my family spent summer weekends at our cottage and fishing was a popular activity. At dusk on Friday night, dad held a shovel in one hand and my little hand in his other, and we made our way to a specific spot in the yard to dig up worms to use for bait in the morning. The worm-hunting excursion brought a song to my dad’s lips and to this day, makes me giggle.

“Nobody likes me, everybody hates me. Sitting in the garden eating worms. Big fat juicy ones, small little thin ones. Oh, how they wiggled and they’d squirm.”

Shovel in hand and me on the sideline, dad made his first plunge into the dirt. I remember he used his foot to stomp on the shovel to get deep into the the earth. With his brawn, he’d flip the dirt pile over and I would start to paw my way through looking for big, juicy nightcrawlers. Dad put some dirt in an empty coffee can and empty whipped cream plastic bowl and I would drop nightcrawlers in one at a time. The lids of the containers had holes poked for the sake of oxygen and they were placed near our fishing gear for the morning.

At dawn on Saturday, when the lake looked as smooth as glass, we packed the fishing boat with our safety cushions, nightcrawlers, and fishing poles and motored to a fishing spot dad felt would wield a good catch.

Even though I caught the worms, I was not able to put them on the hook as well as he could, so dad did it for me. I fished with a bobber on my line so I could learn what it felt like when a fish was interested in my bait. Nibbles would make the bobber wiggle in the water and a hooked fish pulled the bobber out of sight. Depending on the size of the catch, it could take some effort to reel in, but once in the boat, we’d size up the catch. Too small a fish, it gets released to the water, if large enough by state fishing regulations, it becomes dinner.

So it is with grief. The tug at my heartstrings when a memory of my parents comes out of nowhere is like the bobber wiggling in the water. Then the milestone moments knowing they will not be there for a special event or holiday makes that bobber disappear. As hard as it may be to face what is on the end of the line, I reel it in. At this point, whether a nibble of grief or a major catch, it is healthy to face it. Sit with it if I must; ride it out until it fades away.

I have a big catch on the end of my line. June 24 will be my first birthday without either parent. It is the hardest thing for me to reel in right now. My parents made birthdays fun and grief is showing me the slideshow of memories on the wall of my mind.

Thank you mom and dad for bringing me into this world and giving me such a good life that I have, yet another, reason to grieve your passing.

1 Thessalonians 3:6 (NIV)  Timothy’s Encouraging Report

But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you.

 

Who You Gonna Bug?


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Bad Timing


Last night I was at my mom’s house when I saw the hearse pull up and park in the street. Two men dressed in black suits and tailored overcoats with matching black leather gloves stepped out and opened the back door of their vehicle. Perfectly orchestrated, they pulled out the coffin and wheeled it into the house and parked it in between the kitchen and dining room, just below the last professional photo of my parents when my dad was able to walk with the aid of a cane. From the corner of the living room, I continued to watch the men in the black suits open the coffin. From a distance, I could see my dad lying there.

Questions flooded my mind, but the most predominate was to know why they brought my dad from the cemetary back to the house he hadn’t resided in since December 2008. I lost track of the men in the black suits as I was focused on my dad as he sat up and said, “Hey!!!” while I exclaimed “Yay!!!” and clapped my hands like a child watching a magic trick.

My dad moved elegantly out of the coffin and stood up as I ran to give him the type of hug I would expect to give him when we met in heaven. His skin was soft and flawless and his hug was gentle and warm. I couldn’t believe he was back and I was the only person in the house that got to see him. Just as I was about to talk to him, I became distracted by a constant beeping noise. Oh the discouragement, frustration and bad timing as I realized I was only dreaming and the constant beeping noise was common during the night at my house. Our microwave is old and, for no apparent reason, will flash the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4 while beeping at each number and we usually take turns getting out of bed to make it stop.

Dad, I miss you, but it was nice to see how healthy you are now. Thanks for the visit.

Matthew 28:6 (NIV)

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.

Sin of Omission


It was neighborly of me to smile and wave as I drove by, and in a neighborly way he always smiled and waved back. I moved on with my life as I turned into my driveway while my neighbor continued to sit on his walker, breathing in fresh air and enjoying the evening sun on his face.

My feet could not convince my heart to walk over and introduce ourselves to this neighbor. Even when his dog joined him outside, I could not be lured by its cuteness. This gentle-looking man reminded me too much of my dad. When my dad was able to move about with the help of a cane, he used to sit in the driveway, listening to Polkas or a Detroit Tiger game, absorbing the bone-strengthening sun of the day. I miss my dad; he has been gently guided into Heaven in 2009.

Early morning July 4, 2012, I was closing down my house to go to bed when I noticed a red strobe light panning my window alerting me to the emergency down the street. As I peered out the window I saw my unknown neighbor, sitting up but strapped down on a stretcher, being guided gently into the back of an ambulance.

This is my personal example of a sin of omission. As James 4:17 states:
If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them.

If I see my neighbor back in his front yard, I am going to make this situation right between my head, feet and heart.

What is your sin of omission? Do you still have an opportunity to make it right?

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