First of all, I've missed you. I've missed the advice you could give me about these boys. I've missed standing on my tip-toes, as an adult, to hug you and kiss your cheek. I've missed those puppy-dog eyes smiling back at me.
I've missed your bar-b-q. And the pride that you took in your techniques.
And I've even missed your quirks. I miss trying to control my laughter while watching you put a stamp on an envelope. I miss how you would get up out of your chair just to walk across the room and pick up the piece of lint on the floor. And just the other day, I smiled at your oldest grandson when he was putting the trash can liner in the trash can. He must have shaken the liner 20 times before he put it in there.
He's a lot like you; he likes things to be "just so." As they ought to be.
Notice the empty pockets after purchasing his new truck.
I wish you could see them now. I wish you could throw the ball in the back yard with them and ride the rides with them at Six Flags. If you were still here, you'd still be young enough! I try to tell them about you, so they remember your name. It's so hard when only one of the three has his own memories of you. The other two have so much to leave to imagination.
Dad's last Christmas with us.
Mini me was 4; Brown Eyes was 2 months old.
By the way, mom told me what you said about my "alternative" dressing. She said you really liked it, but you weren't going to tell me that. I guess you wanted me to sweat it out. And that's okay; I knew the truth.
One of my favorite memories is so simple, so elemental, yet it was so profound to me. You had suffered multiple strokes and couldn't talk, but you were still very alert. There were several people standing around your hospital bed, and I was settled somewhat at a distance, allowing everyone else to have their time with you. You turned your head to face me, and motioned with your hand for me to come to you. I thought you needed something, so I grabbed your hand and asked, "What do you need, dad?" You firmly grasped my hand, closed your eyes, and I knew you had what you needed. You were never the type to display much affection; the fact that you singled me out in a room full of people meant the world to me.
I remember giving you a haircut in the hospital, too. I was so nervous about that because of how particular you could be, but you couldn't have seemed more relaxed. I never would have believed at the time that it was going to be your last haircut. What a privilege that was for me.
After we had to let you go, I was so thankful to have that night of "Heaven's Gates" to cling to. I would be willing to bet that now, after seeing Christ face to face, you hold that memory dear to you too. I remember after the presentation, everyone in the cast was asked to come forward to the alter and pray with those who had responded to the call to salvation...and there were a great many. After I prayed with a few of the ladies up front, I remember walking toward the back and looking to where you and mom had been sitting. You were both gone.
I truly expected that because you were always the one to leave a place before the crowd did. "I want to get out of the parking lot!" You would say. So I just knew that you two had left once the invitation had begun. I was devastated, but I just couldn't give up the hope that you were still there somewhere.
People were everywhere. Every. Where. I peeked inside the counseling rooms to see if I could spot you or mom anywhere. Please God, let them still be here. At the exact moment that I peered around the corner, you stood up from talking with a counselor. I had never been so blissfully surprised in all my life! To think that you had actually walked forward, in the middle of that huge crowd, and told someone that you wanted to receive Christ for yourself was almost more than this little girl's heart could contain! It was the very thing I had hoped and prayed for...but could hardly believe!
It was only two short years before we lost you. Mom and I both agree we saw some major changes in your life after that night at our church. And I have to admit, sometimes I wonder why God didn't let you stay a little longer and develop that young faith that was born in you. But who am I to question the very One who created you? His wisdom supremely outweighs mine, and His jurisdiction reaches eminently further than mine. Just to say the very least.
What I can say is this: I am so thankful that I have the assurance that you truly trusted Christ that night, and I'm thankful for the hope that brings. I will see you again someday, and we'll have all the time we need to talk about all you've been seeing these last years.
Thank you, dad, for persevering beyond the difficulties of growing up, and for overcoming so much to provide a good childhood for me. I never felt neglected, undervalued, or unloved by you. I recognize that you loved me in the best way you knew how, and I love you for that. Don't worry about the times when you feel like you failed me, because I already know what that feels like; I've failed too. But our God redeemed it all and my eyes are wide open to this fact: you cherished your only daughter.
And I love you too. Happy Father's Day, Daddy.
Me, Daddy, and Momma