If Your Dad’s Still Here …

This Father’s Day ends, and I’m remembering my Papa. He wasn’t famous or incredible in many ways, or anything. He drank too much and chainsmoked, and loved me and my sister, Becky,  with his whole heart. I only got eleven Father’s Days with him face-to-face before the divorce.

He stayed in our lives, supporting us financially and emotionally and seeing us a couple of weeks each summer. The ends of which I dreaded.My child’s heart waited  and waited for him to drive back up our drive.

Papa with becky and Greg on their wedding day.

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And then in 1995, he called me to come and get him. He was dying of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure. We drove from Oklahoma to California with him doing travelogue most of the way. He’d driven that route as a heavy equipment salesman for years. But just outside Kingman, his eyes began to roll back in his head, and when he was lucid, he told me to find a hospital.

The morning of Father’s Day that year I didn’t even realize what day it was. He’d said the night before that if he were still alive in the morning mysister and I should get him out of the hospital. We checked him out AMA,  lifted him into the back of Becky’s dust buster, and tore off for home. He said if he died before we hit the California border to pretend he was asleep because otherwise we’d have all sorts of trouble with the authorities. That’s how he was, always looking to others’ needs.

Sometime between a car full of angels who folowed us across the desert, only leaving us at Bakersfield, and an 18 wheeler tire flying over Becky inthe dust buster and under me in Papa’s car, I realized it was Father’s Day. I’d always senthim presents and cards and called him to wish him Happy Father’s Day, and I hadn’t said anything, to him or to Bake. Just drove. It was our 12th Father’s Day face-to-face.

When we made it into our cul de sac, my children’s father came from the house and carried my father in to lay him on the sofa. He lived another six months, endearing himself to my children and my friends. He’d already become my husband’s role model long before.

All that to say, if your father is here, don’t take him for granted. One day he won’t be. It will be too late to accept him as he is, to appreciate your existence because of him, to spend time he so longs for. Now, I know there are some abusive dads out there, and if you’ve got one, ask God how to handle him, and follow His guidance. But most dads are just guys who took on the gargantuan task of raising and loving children, making mistakes and keeping on going. They deserve your time, your appreciation.We still love you, Papa. Happy Father’s Day.20171126_070616

 

Autumn

nature red forest leaves

The winds come up and the air cools. Little puffy clouds skip across the sky. Leaves fade from green to yellow to orange to red. Daylight shrinks.

My thoughts turn to pumpkins on the front porch, Indian corn on the coffee table and crunching leaves down the sidewalk. The action of summer slows to the last harvest. Apples are crisp and juicy. And my heart inhales.

If winter is dead, autumn is the sadness before the death. Why are it’s colors so happy, so warm? Is it because our Heavenly Father knew we would need the gold, amber and crimson to warm our chilly fingers and toes? Or is it His promise that spring will come again? Or maybe it’s His promise that death isn’t sad, but a new beginning.

 

If you Thought You might Die on Tuesday

So last week, that was me. I was headed to a heart catheterization. The doc, practicing full disclosure, said “There is a 1 in 1,000 chance you’ll die during this procedure.” Now, If I’d been really fast-thinking, I’d have asked, “So, what number are you on now?” Darn it, I’ll just have to tell him next time I see him. That one was too good to miss.

It’s interesting the things I thought about. I only wanted to be with my family, particularly the ol’ darlin’ I’ve been married to for 47 years. We watched Steel Magnolias together because it’s my favorite movie, and you don’t really have time to run to Broadway for a play. We went out to Knights Ferry, planning to walk across the covered bridge, but got too hungry. We ended up eating rich pasta in Oakdale. That put us on a discussion of what made Daniel so unusual, Jim preached on him that morning.

I found myself looking around my home enjoying the beautiful. I had thought about a beach run, but there again, time was an issue. And I thought about getting to meet Jesus before my best friend, who said I better not go anywhere without her. It was just about a year ago that she and I toured Ireland together – and I will never forget it! But even Ireland won’t match climbing into Jesus’ lap and just listening to Him talk with my own ears.

I didn’t talk about dying a whole lot. The ol’ Darlin’ couldn’t stand it, and I figured with the odds being in my favor, why bother. But I did write out everything he’d need to know and letters to each person in my fam, just in case. Gosh, better shred those letters, who knows what might change by the time I really do see the light.

I really did not like being the cause of so much concern and so many tears, but I have learned something from it.

And now, each day I joy away at mundane tasks, like feeding the chickens and picking up their eggs,  and I pay close attention to the wonderful in life. Like this morning I saw two little girls playing rochambeau in the cafe where we ate breakfast. The lesson here is, none of us really knows whether we’ll be alive on Tuesday. So, love your God, your fam, and joy the crud out of life.

p.s. My heart is healthy. I don’t know what I’m going to do if I make it to 83. My great grandmother did, and she had no teeth. You had to turn your head sideways to kiss her. I refuse. The ol’ darlin’ and I had a talk about that this morning. He said, “Maybe you’ll get hit by a car just in time.” I said, “Yeah, or stuck in a room full of poison air.” He said, “Some Japanese fishermen got hit by a cow dropped out of a Russian plane.” I think we have this all figured out.