The day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, there was a knock at our front door. I opened it to see the beloved face of my father, eyes full of tears. “I just had to see you.” he said, throat knotted with emotion. And I threw myself into the arms that have held me so many times before as I cried. My daddy.
A few weeks ago I sat next to my husband during Sunday School. Tim told us to turn to the person next to us and tell them about someone we knew that embodied humility. Who was the first person to come to your mind? I shared my thoughts with Brian, then asked him who he had thought of. He smiled and bluntly said, “Your dad.” My eyes filled with tears as I thought about the respect he shared with me. My daddy.
Two years ago I watched him hold his only granddaughter in his arms. Four years ago it was his fifth grandson. Six years ago it was his fourth, and my first child. Each time he gazed in wonder moved to tears. He revels in his grandchildren, never complaining when they ask him to play. Building snowmen, reading books tirelessly, splashing in the ocean, pushing them in the swing. My daddy, a grandaddy.
Every year we go to the beach with my family, and every year he cares for my Pap, his father-in-law, as if Pap was his own father. Every year he takes the boys out crab-hunting with flashlights on the cool evening sand. Every year he buys donuts one morning as a treat, because, well, that’s his favorite. We splash in the pool, ride waves in the ocean, go for walks on the sandy beaches, we play games, we laugh, we love. Every year I watch him sit on the balcony with his Bible and his coffee, drinking in the ocean’s beauty along with the beauty of His Lord. My daddy.
Years ago he stood beside me, never more handsome, in a tux. The dazzle of my white gown found competition with the glitter of tears in his eyes. We stood in the foyer, strains of music washing over us as we waited. His strong hand clasped over mine, a whispered, “I love you.” And I melted, “Don’t say that now!” I laughed through my tears. He gave me away. One of the hardest things he’s done in his life. My daddy.
We sat on the daybed in my room. Bare walls, empty frames, closet filled with boxes rather than clothes. “I miss you so much.” I cried. He cried with me. “I miss you, too.” College had taken me through my own steps of independence, and he pushed me out the door, knowing I had to grow up, but agonizing with my every step. My daddy.
He was always my biggest cheerleader. I could write pages of memories… singing harmonies with him at the piano, playing games around our kitchen table, watching The Muppet Show every Saturday night while eating pizza, laughing together at my mother’s antics, game nights, reading books together, etc. He was diligent around the home, working tirelessly on home repairs and yardwork, a good steward of the gifts he was given. A quiet man, he never showed the effects of a dysfunctional family life as a child, and I remember my surprise when he shared just how difficult his childhood was. My daddy.
He is admired by his peers, respected; his wisdom sought after. He is someone that I can go to for advice still. And I do. We have sat together night after night during their stays here recently, sharing our hearts and struggles. We sit close, my head on his shoulder. It’s a familiar pose. My daddy.
As a child, he was always my hero. My daddy.
Some things never change.
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