Father’s Day is Tough
For several weeks leading up to Father’s Day, I intentionally stay away from card shops and stationery aisle in stores.
It’s much harder to escape the online ads and store emails about Father’s Day, but I’ve gotten pretty good at avoiding them, too.
Coming from a large family with 6 older brothers and 2 younger ones, my family tells me I was my daddy’s girl from my very first breath. I was a tomboy and I did crazy things to keep up with my brothers and be near my dad. I have scars all over to show for my efforts. I’m really good at hiding those scars.
But Father’s Day always catches me off guard.
A well-hidden scar on my heart reopens with a stinging reminder that my dad is gone. He died after a long battle with heart disease when I was 27.
My oldest child has vague memories of her grandpa, but my youngest son has none. And now, he is himself a new dad to a tiny wisp of a girl. He can’t rock her to sleep because he’s on a submarine serving our country, but he Skypes whenever he can. Every time that little girl hears her daddy’s voice and sees his face, she giggles and jabbers. I see such love between them. But it’s bittersweet for me.
Some of you certainly know the ache of losing your father.
To death, to divorce, to deployment.
You just want to avoid the reminder of what you don’t have because it’s so very painful.
In a way, I’m kind of jealous of families that have dads who are active in their lives. Because there’s no chance left for me to say “I love you,” or share a good laugh with my father now. No way to thank him for the hard lessons he taught me. My opportunity to say anything like that slipped away before this young mom knew how much all those things would matter.
Early last month, I was browsing through birthday cards for my daughter and backed into a father also looking at cards for his daughter.
He stepped close as I chose my cards and asked if I’d help him find one for his daughter. He said that he and his daughter were “at odds” because of a misunderstanding, and he wasn’t sure what to send her. I handed him a card, told him I’d give anything to see my father again and gently urged him, for his daughter’s sake, to do what he could to restore the relationship before it was too late.
I’m sure there were times my dad and I didn’t get along. But my father never held a grudge. It just wasn’t in him. If I needed disciplined, I got disciplined. But dad was always quick to forgive, extend grace and tell me he loved me once the punishment was delivered. I’m pretty sure my brothers would say the same thing.
I also know these things for certain:
My father loved Jesus – and any sport with the word “ball” in it or OSU attached to it.
He led me to Jesus – and taught me how to catch and throw a baseball correctly.
He helped me memorize bible verses – and taught me to be a fierce competitor.
He taught me to be strong – and he cried every time he prayed over our family meal.
He prayed on his knees every night for his wife and kids to follow after God.
Ask anyone who ever spent time around my father. They felt loved by him. Most of all, they saw Jesus in him. So while I may avoid most things about Father’s Day, I’m still careful to honor my dad’s legacy and keep his memory alive for my children and granddaughter.
I still hold close to my heart the things my dad demonstrated even as he was withering away before my eyes: “God is good all the time. Pray about it first, and then keep praying. Show your family you love them. Use the gifts God gave you. Trust God and His plan. He’ll show you that He is good even when it doesn’t make sense. Remember who you are and who you belong to.”
I guess I’m still my Daddy’s girl.
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