Holidays can pose both joy and sadness, can't they? I know people who have come to hate birthdays and special days like Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Christmas, and more -- not so much because of what they represent, but because of what is missing in their lives. And what is missing is linked to our expectations. I remember years ago when I longed to be a mom, but that dream didn't come quite as quickly as I'd hoped. Several years and a miscarriage in between made me cry during Mother's Day sermons, not because I didn't love my mom, but because I wanted to be one myself.
But God knew - when the timing was right, He gave me the privilege of being a mom to three sons. He gave me the privilege of now having two daughters-in-law. And the privilege of parents that taught me about Jesus and showed me all through their aging years, that He is ever faithful.
My mom and dad married when they were only 19 and 20, and only a short time into their marriage, WWII happened. Suddenly, my dad was off to war and they rarely saw each other again for several years. My dad missed my brother's birth, which probably bothered him more than we ever knew. He didn't talk about those war days much. He had too much to do living right now.
But life, as had happened when he answered the call to war, still took a lot of unexpected turns. Daddy didn't expect his father-in-law to die young or his mother-in-law to end up living in his home. He did not expect the company he worked for to go bankrupt or his health to cause him multiple surgeries. He lived through all the struggles of his kids (I was a surprise!), through struggles at our church, through financial losses, loss of friends, and so much more. (Of course, he also got to enjoy seven grandchildren and a few great-grandchildren, so we can't forget the blessings!)
Then in 2008, the year that seemed to change so much for all of us, Daddy fell and broke his hip. He was supposed to go to rehab and come home and walk again. But he never did. He spent the last three and a half years of his life in a nursing home -- a place we never ever wanted him to be. I'm pretty sure it wasn't on his bucket list of things to do in life either. And I'm pretty sure he never expected the path of his life to go in that direction.
He's been gone for three and a half years now, and Father's Day always reminds me how much I miss him, and yet how grateful I am that I had him at all. I could have been someone else's daughter -- that is, someone else could have raised me. I could have missed out on so many fun memories I have of him now. So many things he said and did that made me feel loved.
Daddy accepted each day as a gift from God's hand. He knew his Father well, and the older he got, the more trials he faced, the more joy he showed. He wouldn't have held it against us if we missed Father's Day or his birthday, though he might have wondered why. And every time we threw him a party, or even visited him, his face would light up like the stars. He loved each one of us unconditionally, no expectations, no matter what.
When I met Randy, I didn't realize how much like my dad he is. He's been through hardships and trials. Maybe not a world war, but certainly some stresses that might break a lesser man. He never expects things or thinks highly of himself. He just takes what is given with gratitude. He doesn't demand his own way and he loves unconditionally, no matter what.
I've learned, or tried to learn, a lot from these two special men, though one is now with Jesus. And I am so grateful God put them in my life. Daddy was my rock from my earliest memories. He was there for me when no one else could be. I was proud to call him Dad.
And Randy is my rock now. He is the steady in my storm. He is peace in my distress. He is the blessing in my morning, the joy in my life, the one I count on. Because he leads me to Jesus.
Daddy died with a Bible and a wedding ring, with a faith that never wavered and a heart of acceptance for the next step of his journey with his Father.
Randy lives with a Bible and a wedding ring, with a faith that never wavers and a heart of acceptance for whatever God has for our future, and a gratitude for each day.
I could not ask for a better Dad or a better dad to my sons.
In loving memory, Daddy.
And Happy Father's Day, Sweetheart.