If I were to describe my relationship with my dad, the word I would use would be “complicated”. I’ve never known life without him and I can’t imagine him not being here. He lived his life with his own set of rules and way of doing things. I guess most of us do the same. It wasn’t a bad way of living, it just wasn’t my path or my way. That created tension at times.
Watching him over the past few years as his body weakened and gave into dementia, created within me a deeper understanding of the frailty of life. Seeing him the way he was was hard to comprehend—-this man who was always in control, yet became so dependent on others and at times didn’t even know his family members. My strong, stubborn, in control, big hearted, generous father became so very frail. Seeing him like this was used to create within me more compassion for him and for others.
I am sad (and sometimes I’m angry) for moments lost. I’m sad that things weren’t always what they should have been. But I’m also grateful for this man who worked hard (sometimes 2-3 jobs at a time) to provide for his family, who did the best he knew how to raise his children, and who pushed through his own baggage and demons to provide for us better than he’d had when he was growing up.
A few things that will always make me think of dad:
- Old Spice cologne
- Peter Frampton. Dad bought me my first Peter Frampton album. One day I found him dancing in the living room when I came the down stairs. He had put the album on and was dancing, just to see what kind of a reaction he would get out of me.
- Fake (plastic) poo! He loved to play jokes on people using fake poo!
- Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and anything made with peanut butter.
- Butter Pecan ice cream.
- Anything to do with the Redskins (I think mom will become a millionaire if she decides to sell all of dad’s redskin paraphernalia on eBay!).
- Southern Gospel music, especially The Gaither Vocal Band and The Cathedral Quartet! When he listen to his music he would play it as loud as he could and it didn’t matter to him that it made his kids gag!
- He loved making a big family breakfast on Saturday morning. He would wake us up by opening our bedroom door and saying “NOW!” (You can take the man out of the military but you can taken the military about of the man!)
- The Our Daily Bread devotional (it always sat on the back of the toilet!)
- The way he always began his prayers before our meals by saying “our gracious Heavenly Father“.
Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. Relationships are hard. Church life is hard. We all enter into these callings wanting to do our very best, yet carrying with us our own life experiences, and we fight the millions of thoughts and perceptions that life and the enemy throw at us. Like you and I, my Dad did his best to partner with God to fulfill his callings. I am grateful for his efforts. He truly did give us a better life than what he had known growing up.
I know that he is the dad that God sovereignly decided was best for me so that He could accomplish what He wanted to accomplished. I honor him because he really did live the way he thought was best.
I will miss him, but I know he is now with his Gracious Heavenly Father.
(My father passed away on August 10, 2022. This is what I shared at his funeral.)