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.
I often feel like a five loaves of bread and two fish sort of person. I don’t have much, but when I hand it over to God, He can do miracles.
When Jesus heard that John the Baptist, his cousin, was beheaded, He boarded a boat to be alone. I can only imagine His thoughts about John. After all, he was preparing the way for Jesus by baptizing people. He was given the honorable task of baptizing Jesus.
John suffered a horrible death. His work on earth was done.
The crowds may not have realized the relationship between Jesus and John. They may not have known why Jesus pushed off shore for some alone time to grieve. What they did know about Jesus was his ability to heal. So they chased after Him and when He saw them, He had compassion on them and went ashore.
Jesus often told people around those whom he brought back to life, such as His friend Lazarus, to feed them. Jesus spent a good portion of the day healing and reviving those who sought His attention on that hillside.
It was time to feed the crowd that followed Jesus that day. To me, this indicated new life and giving His people strength to go forward to show others who may be nonbelievers, how to believe.
A young boy, who happened to be nearby, packed a little lunch for himself that morning not knowing he would be handing it over to Jesus. He had a meager offering of five loaves of bread and two fish and Jesus blessed it, multiplied it, fed the large crowd and had left overs.
What meager offering do you have to hand over to Jesus today?
I often feel like a five loaves of bread and two fish sort of person. I don’t have much, but when I hand it over to God, He can do miracles.
If Jesus healed you or a loved one, restored a sour relationship, or has given you peace over a situation out of your control, grab a bite to eat because you have been given new life. Celebrate and give God the glory He so deserves.
Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to his disciples to distribute to the people. He also divided the two fish among them all. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces of bread and fish. The number of the men who had eaten was five thousand.
I could only imagine what motherhood was like so I planted a garden.
I dug into the earth with my shovel and pushed it as deep as I could with the help of my foot buried inside a steel-toed shoe. Mindfully in the moment, I heard the melodious crunching sound the shovel made as it sliced into the dirt hitting buried rocks and matured roots from past plantings. The sound exhumed memories of watching my dad dig up space for a garden in the backyard when I was a kid. I dug shovelful after shovelful of earth and flipped it upon itself and worked the soil into a place of new beginnings.
Backyard nesting and oh, that fresh dirt smell.
As I made my way down the aisles at the garden store, I found a large selection of Knockout Roses. I felt like I was peering into the hospital newborn nursery window as I looked at rows and rows of rose bushes. Each rose similar in species had a unique look. I reached down and gently pulled out the one from the group that resembled me and put it on my cart. As a new mom, I was sure to gather together the potting soil and nutrients my budding plant would need to flourish in the space I had prepared.
I dug out a space to fit the rootball and added weed-killing plant food to the hole. I talked to the new rose bush, attempting to ease its fear of change leaving the pot it was grown in and introduced it to my yard. I loosened its roots so it could feel its way into the new space and feel at home too. I filled new soil around the root and pressed it into the earth. Wearing a new mother’s glow, I knelt down next to the rose and said, “Welcome to my yard; welcome to my life! Enjoy your first refreshing drink of water from the garden hose.”
This was a process repeated five more times.
I observed mothers who put their all into raising their offspring. That selfless act was revealed in the maturity of their children at an early age. In a similar fashion, I put in a lot of time and energy into warding off weeds so they would not interfere with the growth of my roses.
My garden was spoiled.
I fertilized and watered and the sun was my daycare provider. Here they are a year later! Oh, how my babies have grown!!
I could only imagine what motherhood was like, so I planted a garden.
9 I will sing a new song to you, my God;
on the ten-stringed lyre I will make music to you,
10 to the One who gives victory to kings,
who delivers his servant David.
From the deadly sword 11 deliver me;
rescue me from the hands of foreigners
whose mouths are full of lies,
whose right hands are deceitful.
12 Then our sons in their youth
will be like well-nurtured plants,
and our daughters will be like pillars
carved to adorn a palace.
13 Our barns will be filled
with every kind of provision.
Our sheep will increase by thousands,
by tens of thousands in our fields;
14 our oxen will draw heavy loads.[a]
There will be no breaching of walls,
no going into captivity,
no cry of distress in our streets.
Today we drove 5 hours, round trip, to celebrate the life of my brother-in-law. I did not know very many of the people there, but it was a nice turn out of family and friends who were touched by his life. Although drugs consumed a big part of his life, the bigger part was when he met Jesus on his own road to Demascus. He was on fire for the Lord and that makes my heart happy. Distance and finances had kept us from really getting to know each other, but I do recall one Easter brunch in a restaurant several years ago, I had the opportunity to sit next to him and we talked “God”. It was a refreshing conversation, especially on Easter, my favorite holiday of the year. We had a few telephone conversations after that brunch and we shared God stories. I love sharing God stories.
I recall when my niece, Jill, passed away a little over three years ago. My brother-in-law heard the news and called me while I was at the funeral home with hundreds of people paying their respects to her and my family. He shared the love of Jesus with me and comforted me with his prayers for peace. He shared Easter with me in December.
In the last leg of our journey home this evening, we passed the bus station. The dark evening sky and the lights inside the station made it so I could see the bench that my two sisters and I sat on as we waited for a bus to transport one of my sisters back home after the funeral for Jill. I remember how I did not want my sister to leave. The closeness of family is the only thing I can grasp onto at such times and sitting on the bench made me want to stop time and keep my sister here with me.
Death is a wake up call. We feel close to those we love; we cling to those we love that are still with us. But as time moves forward, we hit a snooze button and “forget” we had that closeness. Life moves on.
Even though we know we will all one day die, death is a shock. Recent posts on Facebook of death notices include the familiar comment, “remember to spend time with your loved ones as you never know when someone will be called home”. Why do we have to be reminded to spend time with those we love?
Funerals are the one occassion we stop what we are doing and pay our respects. Our pictures and stories become extra special as we recall the relationships that have suddenly ended. Distance doesn’t seem to matter when there is a death. Most funerals are held only when everyone can be there that needs to be there. We take the time to travel to be there. Whether it is a 5 hour round trip or a bus ride across a few states; we make the time because we know love. This love is what Jesus taught us.
Godspeed to the newly deceased. To be absent from the body means they are present with our Lord. Rest in peace dear brother-in-law, great is your reward.
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
“Get up early and get there first, you’ll have the whole day ahead of you” echoes my dad’s voice of wisdom in my head.
Jumping out of bed this morning, I prepped two rooms in my house to keep my three cats out of the way of the guy doing some work in our basement. I proceeded to drive my car to the repair shop and got there before the “Open” sign was turned on in the window. I left it there to have them look at my brakes and rotate my tires. Living close enough to the repair shop, I took advantage of the beautiful sunny morning of my day off from work, and walked home. It felt good not to be one of the cars zooming by heading to work today.
I stopped into the coffee shop in my neighborhood and found out they do not carry dairy-free French Vanilla flavored creamer, so I made a stop to the corner grocer and picked out some decaf coffee beans, ground them, and grabbed a container of my dairy-free creamer. I brewed my own pot of coffee and sipped it while sharing my scrambled eggs with my cat, Mojo.
As I was walking around my house, tinkering around actually, I noticed a sqeak in my shoe. I paused and made that same step in my shoe and heard that squeak. I smiled as memories flooded my mind.
My dad never wore jeans; he said he didn’t like the feel of them. So he always wore black polyester pants, belted. When he worked around the house, tinkering around the house actually, he would wear the black pants that had paint drips on them along with a white T-shirt with slightly yellowed armpits despite my mom’s attempts to whiten them with her secret laundry powers. He also wore these beat up, old black slippers.
When I was very young, I thought the kitchen floor itself was squeaky because it sqeaked when dad walked through. The floor didn’t squeak when I walked the same path and I concluded it was because I was very thin and didn’t carry enough weight.
I remember when I was a few years older, I needed to get something from outside and I couldn’t find my shoes, but dad’s beat up, old black slippers were there at the ready. I slipped in them and headed out the door. Then I heard the familiar kitchen floor squeak, but I was out in the driveway. I would step a certain way and the slipper would squeak. I made a little song of it with my feet. It was fun.
So this morning, I heeded my dad’s advice and got a lot accomplished before 8:00am. And I squeaked my shoe in the kitchen and of course made a little song out of it. It was fun.
Happy early Father’s Day, dad. I love you and miss you dearly.
Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”