I was sitting on the moving truck yesterday, looking at my grandmother’s house. I was taking in the sight of it, preserving it in my memory. For the last 30 years, it is where I have come to visit her and my Pawpaw. Every room has memories. Sleeping double with my sister in the front bedroom, giggling late into the night over things only we would understand, sitting in my Pawpaw’s office, playing on his adding machine and telephone – feeling important. Sitting around the living room, watching westerns with my grandparents, laughing at my crazy uncle’s smart aleck comments. Being in the kitchen, watching Mawmaw cook, setting the table for meals, eating caramel cake, holding hands and hearing Pawpaw’s familiar blessing, “Heavenly Father, pardon our sins, help us to be true and thankful for these and all the blessings, for Christ’s sake, Amen.” Laying up on the big king sized bed in their bedroom, watching tv after a long day of swimming and playing. Pulling up in that driveway meant good things were about to happen. I will forever associate that house with happy memories.
I am my father’s daughter. And spending the day with him yesterday, packing up that house, I was thinking about the things I associate with who he is. Hard work – of course. He’s the hardest working man I’ve ever known. Too hard. He doesn’t quit until he absolutely has to.
Order – I get my demanding nature of other people from him. I expect people to be dependable, on time, honest, and competent: because I am. Because he is.
But laughter – oh laughter. God, I wouldn’t have made it through, our family wouldn’t have made it through, so many of our darkest hours without the ability to laugh.
Nature – the man was born to be outdoors. On the land. I’ve walked behind him on many parcels of earth – planting a garden, working a garden, picking huckleberries, tending cows, looking at our woods, playing in our creeks, smelling the smoky goodness that can only mean he’s fired up the grill.
Advice – he used to give his opinion whether you asked or not….but not always, these days. Mostly, but not always. But if you ask, he’ll try his best to impart any wisdom he can. He’s taught me to be a logical thinker, and finally, after 33 years, I’m getting better at letting my head rule when it should, instead of my emotions. (Sorry that has taken so long, Dad)
But, above all, it’s love that I associate with him. Just like my grandmother’s house has been held with helplesness, grief and sadness many times the last couple of years, when I step back, and reflect, the happy memories shine so brightly, they overshadow anything else. And that’s how it is with my Dad.
We’ve had some tumultuous years. Times when I thought he was an idiot and I’m sure the feeling was mutual. Times when he hurt me and I hurt him. But one thing I’ll say about my Dad that isn’t true of many people – even myself – is that when he says, “It’s forgiven.” he means it. He’s not going to bring it up again. He’s going to move forward. And while I’ve certainly known more “religious” men, Dad’s demonstration of forgiveness is second only to that of Christ himself – at least in this daughter’s eyes.
He gives of himself willingly and without expectation of reward, he forgives completely, he appreciates the little things, he loves his children – biological or otherwise – and he loves – not just in word, but in demonstration through hard work and also, most importantly, through the affection he displays.
I am so beyond grateful for that kind of father. The older I get, the more I consider just how fortunate I am to know, and have known, that kind of love.
My Dad is a man of many strengths. But, “the greatest of these is love”. That is what I associate with you this Father’s day, and always.