Happy Father’s Day, Dad…

In childhood, I remember how my father created the perfect backyard. Along with a vegetable garden, he planted three big willow trees, wild rose bushes to cover the fence, and honeysuckle. The fruit trees included apple, peach, cherry, plum — and the pear tree, which is still here, along with this Rose of Sharon, pictured above. He was just planting lovely landscaping elements, but to me, each section of the yard had creative-imagination potential.

When one of the willows died and the trunk had been cut down, for a day it was a ship I sailed on, traveling into various adventures. I loved running and jumping fences and climbing trees and jumping as high as I could out of high-flying swings, loving that brief moment of being suspended in air. I enjoyed taking chances — including one that wasn’t too bright … as deciding to flip over the top of a swing set should never be done if your hands are too little to hold on properly…

But I did it anyway. And fell flat on my back, with the wind knocked out of me. No one else was around. Just God and me. I remember thinking I might die right then and there, next to that ol’ pear tree. So I asked Him for help, in my thoughts. After a while that seemed like hours, I could breathe all right again and all was well.

So many memories from that backyard, with happy days of cookouts; games like volley ball and Frisbee, playing with our dog, Nipper; hanging out with relatives visiting, including Rhonda and Shelia staying the summers; making mud pottery; evening talent shows with all the neighbors… Of Dad out working in the garden. And how wonderful the sunshine was…

I didn’t get to know my dad very well. Except on Sundays. After Mass, my dad and mom and I would drive around for a mini road trip and listen to music and come back for dinner. My best memories are those of him laughing. Those are the ones I have the most vivid recollections of. But mostly, he worked to make a living, sometimes working two jobs, so I didn’t see him a lot.

I came along pretty late in life, and when I was in first grade, he was retiring from the Army already, and we moved back to this house I grew up in. It’s so odd being back, now to help my mom with her health challenges. I remember when my dad was diagnosed with cancer, and the heaviness in this house… It might sound cliche, but the music just stopped. And the garden started fading. And nothing seemed the way it should be anymore. Like losing your grip and falling off a high place and having the wind knocked out of you…

But this time it was my dad. And my mom. And, yes, all of us in different ways… The night before he died, when I was 14, I had a dream of being at an amusement park and in the fun house where everything was distored … and that my mom had died. And, in a sense, she did, as someone she loved had been taken from her. Mom wore her wedding rings for many years after, until arthritis made wearing them impossible, and she had to have them cut off. Life deals everyone blows that suck all the air and energy right out of us sometimes, and leaves cuts and broken pieces…

And there we are. Looking up, with no ability for a while to do anything, but feel numb and a little at a loss of what to do next. But He helps us breathe again… And we eventually do get back up. And all is well… All is made well again on the inside, no matter what happens around us… That peace… That breath of God…

Today, I sleep in the room where my baby crib used to be … where I hung up posters of rock stars and bubblegum chains … and where I penned my short stories and poems. It’s all so odd to think about, the circle that’s happened… Being back again…

And outside my window is the same Rose of Sharon that my dad planted. It’s more beautiful than ever… It’s comforting, seeing that huge plant and the pear tree, remnants of childhood, yet fully here in their own right. Just like all of us. We’re here. We belong in this world we live in. Our parents ushered us into this world, and one day we will leave it, but for now… For now, as long as we have breath, we are here to live our lives as fully as possible.

There’s so much I’d say to my dad if he were still here today, and so many questions I’d ask him. And even more laughter we’d share together. And I’d thank him, and my mom, for encouraging my faith too. I think especially my dad… I remember specifically when I was tired of being made to go to church (at 12 or 13 years of age), and my mom was arguing with me that I was indeed going. Then, very matter of fact, my dad told my mom that if I didn’t want to go, I didn’t have to. I so appreciated that. But the fact was, I loved Jesus even then… And I went back because I wanted to hear more stories from Scripture about Him, and not because I was made to go.

I suppose I’d have to write a book to add all my stories and recollections… So will stop here for now… This is pretty much unedited, and I suppose I should just wait until I have time to do a revision, but I’ll just go with it, ramblings and all…

I’m just glad that I’ll get to see my dad again someday, and am glad he’s getting to hang out with his dad, as he lost his own father when he was just two or three years old… Such wonderful reunions in Heaven… But, for now, we have more living to do here… And I want the last part of my life, however long or short it might be, to be as fun and adventurous as my early childhood. That would be a great full circle…

And … no matter if we have an earthly father — whether because of death or another type of separation — each one of us has a Heavenly Father … who loves us so much, even if we don’t fully realize it yet… The Great Life Breather and Breath Restorer… The One who makes all things new…

So Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

And Happy Father’s Day, Abba God!

Thank you… Both of you… For everything, especially your love…

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5 thoughts on “Happy Father’s Day, Dad…

  1. Sandy, this is amazing and made me miss Dad even more. He was a wonderful dad and very important in my life. I’m sorry that Nathan & Lucas never got to meet him. I’m so glad you write
    such wonderful things about him.

  2. Pingback: Happy Father’s Day, Dad… | Kids say :

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