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

 

Gratitude Opportunities

“Thanks!”

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The orange-shirted guy who had just drained the Starbucks drive thru of standing water helfted his pump into the back of his pickup. I was glad not to drive through the little lake anymore, so I hollered out the window.

The man glanced my way. “You’re welcome.” He got in his truck and grabbed something hot from the drive thru window.

Then I thought about the white-headed man sitting beside me. “Thank you for loving me, and for introducing me to Jesus.”

My sweet hubs has a hard time with compliments, so he responded, “Thank you for changing my life.” That’s okay, I guess I’m a little slow at accepting compliments, too.

At home, I put a few more prunings and leaves in the green can before the garbage men show up. My daughter is taking off from next door, and she stops to talk. Thank you, Daughter. I love to catch up. I have a thought. Maybe some hot coffee for the garbage guy. I’ll have to time that just right.

The beginning of a day. I need to keep my eyes open for more gratitude opportunities.

Thanksgiving

man in white dress shirt and maroon necktie holding hands with girl in white dress

So we’ve got the controversy about whether the Pilgrims were the first Americans at all. And we’ve got the truth that without the Native Americans, the pilgrims would never have survived their first winter. And I bet, at the time, neither group gave a thought to who was first or who helped who. Because when you’re in a situation, you put one foot in front of the other and do what you think is right. It’s us who come later who decide you were a hero or a villain.

Here we are in 2018, putting our feet one in front of the other, trying to do what’s right or lamenting the fact that we’re totally incapable of figuring out what’s right, much less doing it.

I think, because we have so much input from all over the world, that we spend a good deal of our time overwhelmed. And that shuts us down. But at this Thanksgiving, I’m going to  blinder my gigantic screen, and narrow down to what I see in the real world. I think it will help me be more aware, and thus more outwardly focused.

I’m going to: challenge myself to love my neighbor, in my heart, but also with my actions;  take coats to the homeless as the weather here gets colder; check on the widows down the street;  slow and listen to people I love;  purposely hug people who don’t get touched often. And I’m going to thank God that He made me able to do these things, a weak woman, who He makes strong.