I hung up the phone, having enjoyed our call immensely. I teared up as I prayed, “Thank You, God, for my Daddy.”
I call my folks every week. Typically on Tuesday afternoons, but sometimes I have to reschedule. My folks are great about that when it happens. And I mean schedule – as in: on the calendar for a particular date and time. Yes, I schedule my calls to home.
Honestly, I have to or otherwise I would forget to call. At least, that was true when my kids were younger. I could get so busy with them and all their stuff that I would forget to call for a couple of weeks. So Mom and I got in the habit of putting it “on the schedule for next week.” Good habit.
Sometimes when I call, Dad answers the phone and I get to talk to Dad, too. Sometimes I just chat with Mom.
So I had already talked to Mom this week. But I wanted to call Thursday morning and share an answer to a prayer request that I knew they were covering in their morning together-prayer time. And I knew that it might be too late to share this news with Mom; I couldn’t remember what time her Thursday commitments start.
I was pleased when Dad answered – he had just returned from dropping her off at church. I was just going to share the prayer request and hang up, but we easily started chatting about …stuff. Mom’s ministry, Dad’s studies, writing and blogging. We talked about some things we did when I was a kid. It was a great chat.
After I hung up, I let memonies of younger days come:
How I loved Saturday mornings when he would run errands – such fun to get to go with him! Especially if we stopped at his office. The old green tile steps and industrial hand railing, the smell of paper, the black spinning desk chair. I felt so small at his really big metal desk, piled high with papers and fliers and books. There were lined yellow pads, his large cursive/print handwriting revealed on the open pad in the center of the ink-blotter. I think he had a glass plate across the desktop with notes “permanently” attached under the glass. I’m not sure about that, though. If it was there, it was hard to see under the piles of books and papers, the black rotary phone, the in-boxes. He was always researching or writing or researching for writing. At least, that’s what I thought he did. In my limited understanding, he wrote a newsletter, I called it a newspaper, for his company’s employees. I’m still not sure how that meant he got to be the guy in charge at the park activities – a kid’s memories you know.
I remember playing silly word games at the dinner table. We used to beg him to “be funny.” He told good jokes – still does (sometimes the same ones!) I remember when he ate the stuffed green peppers because we kids had never tasted such a thing. (I haven’t made those in ages, but they are so yummy – maybe for lunch this weekend.) I remember how he was always the first one dressed on Sunday morning, sitting on the couch in the living room, staying out of the way of his three girls getting ready! I remember good advice he gave to me as a new bride, jealous of my husband’s salary. I remember his delight when Santa brought him a mountain bike for Christmas, and the year he got his long longed-for jean jacket – a present from Mom when he was in his late 40s.
Daddy doesn’t know a stranger. He has this amazing gift of putting people – anyone – at ease. He’s got a great smile that makes his eyes twinkle – really! – and a laugh that bubbles up from deep inside him and makes me laugh along. It’s attractive to people he meets – he draws them in.
I remember one time when he and Mom were visiting, and the three of us decided to explore the historic downtown shops. I was a beginning knitter, so Mom and I wanted to check out the yarn store. We walked in, Dad staying near the front of the tiny shop. Mom and I wandered to the back, picking up skeins. We were admiring the colors and displays and chatting about her knitting project and my beginner’s efforts. And then we were done – it wasn’t a large store! So we waited by the front display as Dad wrapped up his conversation with the shop owner. Only he didn’t. Mom and I lingered, but the guy and Dad were laughing, Dad listening intently, head bent down a bit, ear tilted toward the right where the man was standing. We waited for several minutes, but the conversation was not even close to ending. Finally, Mom and I told Dad we were headed next door. It was three stores later before Dad caught up – he and the shop owner had been talking the whole time. I think they were swapping golf stories!
Dad is a servant-leader. He’s not afraid to do a job that needs doing. He helps clean the church on Fridays for the weekend, though when I was growing up, cleaning was the girls’ job. He is a retired professor – still a Sunday school and Bible teacher – who only wants his students to learn. He is a man of integrity – there is no question that he walks out his faith in Christ. He’s humble, too – always quick to sing another’s praises, not his own.
He shows me God’s character of grace. He is gentle in his guidance, and it’s clear that he loves Jesus, and continues to grow to be more like Him. Dad and Mom aren’t quitting their journey of growth in the Christian life as they age. Quite the opposite. Dad is like Caleb in the Old Testament – he longs to finish strong in the Lord (Joshua 14:6-15).
I want to do that, too. Thanks, Dad, for showing me how. Love you.