A Father's Love
I was walking down the sidewalk with my two boys on a normal summer day when I heard music playing in a nearby park. It was a song you used to sing with your band. Each lyric I heard stirred up an emotion deep inside and turning it into tears filling my eyes. Tears hidden by my sunglasses. Tears I didn't allow to escape, because I was in public. Tears I didn’t want to release, because I didn’t want my boys to be upset.
We continued to walk. I continued to stuff my emotions. “Please, song, end,” I thought to myself. Finally, it did…only to be followed by another song you used to sing.
I hear you in so many songs, Daddy. You knew so many. You had a song for everything. I do, as well. Life is a musical because of you. Thank you for that.
I see you in vintage cars. They were your favorite. I like them, too. There is something artful and beautiful about the cars of old. You appreciated the craftsmanship, and you passed the appreciation on to me. You loved to see an old car restored—maybe because it gave you hope of being restored yourself.
When I see a tire scrubbing brush, I think of you. Silly, huh? I remember you teaching me how to use one when I helped you wash cars. I picture you in the driveway of our home. You’re wearing faded Levis, cowboy boots, a t-shirt, a ball cap, and accessorizing with a cigar hanging out of your mouth. You never smoked them…just chewed on them. You’re bent down beside Momma’s daffodils dipping the tire brush, which is a fourth of the way flat from all the tires you’ve scrubbed, into a white five gallon bucket of soap suds and water. You begin to meticulously scrub the tire as the muscles in your tanned forearms flex with each motion.
“Jennifer, a job worth doing is worth doing right.” You always were a perfectionist. I got that from you—not a badge I like to wear, but true nonetheless.
I can’t count the number of times you told me I was beautiful. I remember your words, “You’re beautiful, and you have always been beautiful. You were the most beautiful baby I had ever seen.” His eyes shone with adoration and a pure, genuine, unconditional love as he told me.
I always blushed and never got used to him saying it. I wanted to believe it, but I’m not sure I ever really did.
I remember some not so good things I heard you say over the course of my life. Words that still haunt me from time to time. Words that break and crush. Unkind words. I don’t pretend the words were never spoken, but I don’t have to set up camp and live in the bad memories. I choose to focus on what was good about you, Daddy.
And there was a lot of good.
Like all the times I watched you give to others, helping them however you possibly could help. You always worked multiple jobs providing for our family. When I turned sixteen, you had a car for me that you had bought and fixed up. It was older than what some of my friends had, and I wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been. I’m sorry, Daddy.
I know you always wanted to give me and my brother the best. And you gave us your very best, even if we didn’t always know it.
I will never forget our final days together. Many years leading up to those days, you praised God through the pain and through the storm. You told me how much you loved Him. You prayed, the best you could, over me and our family. You are one of God’s greatest redemption stories. I’ve never been mad at God because of what you suffered. He used your pain and our pain to draw us closer to him. And being close to the heart of God is worth all the pain and suffering we endured.
I was your “baby” until your very last breath. Still am.
I miss you so.
I know you are much better off in heaven worshipping our Father, but my heart still hurts.
I wouldn’t bring you back.
Some days when I look in the mirror, I see you. I see your blue eyes. I see your curly hair. I see a smaller version of your nose. It makes me smile through sad eyes.
I think of you when I’m singing. I think of you when I’m cleaning up my car. I think of you when I’m telling a joke. I think of you when I am worshiping my Heavenly Father. I think of you when I’m driving too fast. I think of you when……Out of the blue, I think of you.
Until we meet again—Happy Father’s Day!
P.S. I will place flowers on your grave this evening. Even though I know you aren't there, it makes my heart feel better to honor you in the only earthy way I know how.