My Dad. I’m pretty sure if you’ve met him you remember him, because he won’t let you forget him. I see you nodding your head with that knowing smirk. Images of his near death experiences reeling through your brain. Flashes of arguments over Monopoly, the best place to sit for fireworks, or a passage in the Bible, replaying in your mind. He could sell rain boots to a duck. And he is passionate about what he believes in, no one can argue that. He knows instinctively how to connect with anybody, and can speak expertly on practically anything.
Sometime back my husband started numbering Dad’s stories. Number 22: that time the steering wheel came off while he was driving around the bend of a mountain and he stuck it out the window to show his buddy following behind him. Number 43: that time he and his little brother Ed got into a food fight while doing dishes in the kitchen. and when his mom came in hands on her hips to catch their foolery, some mashed potatoes plopped from the ceiling right on her noggin. We love these stories.
I knew my Daddy was something special because we both had curly hair. And somehow I felt better knowing this fun, young, tall man who was mine got me just a little because we had this crazy hair. Curly Daddy, curly Daughter. That’s us.
Here’s a quintessential memory from 1982 for you: me age six riding in the passenger seat of Uncle Ed’s baby blue Ford Ranchero with Dad at the extra padded, black, nylon wrapped wheel. Windows down, chewing Gatorade gum, while listening to Queen on the Eight Track. I might be making that part up about the steering wheel. It too, may have been baby blue.
But I do remember that my Dad and me, share more than the curly locks of our youth. We have something stirring inside us that wants to live. Really live. Something that makes us do downright crazy things sometimes. We dream BIG dreams and like to talk about them. We want to dance and sing even when we’re no good because it feels like it’s the right thing to do. We must drive fast and turn up the radio because it sets something free inside us.
Some of his stories aren’t so good. You can’t even imagine the breadth of crap that makes up my Dad’s life growing up and some days since. He spent a lot of years running from his story. One time that meant running from me, from our family. That broke my heart. A curly girl with a broken heart is a sad thing.
He came back.
That’s a real Father for you. A man that will say, “Lord, change me.” A man that will stare down his demons and demand his freedom. Who persists through pain and holds God to His promises and will not let go of his family again. He will not give up searching for Truth. He keeps knocking on doors. He keeps listening to the music and letting his heart beat to the rhythm.
Because the ache from our insides, the drive to get free, is to experience the elation of life unafraid. To know we are okay, just being our unruly, messy, unpredictable selves.
Dad, you are okay. And you always made me feel more than okay. You made me feel worthy, and clever. Beautiful. I remember the good advice and the time you spent with us. Because it was intentional, humble, and full of the things you missed out on. You teach me how to live. Thank you for being brave and courageous. I am so happy I, we, our kids, get to celebrate you and your story.
This passage from Psalm 27 reminds me of you…
Hear me as I pray, O Lord.
Be merciful and answer me!
My heart has heard you say, “Come and talk with me.”
And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming.”
Do not turn your back on me.
Do not reject your servant in anger.
You have always been my helper.
Don’t leave me now; don’t abandon me,
O God of my salvation!
Even if my father and mother abandon me,
the Lord will hold me close.
Teach me how to live, O Lord.
Lead me along the right path,
for my enemies are waiting for me.
Do not let me fall into their hands.
For they accuse me of things I’ve never done;
with every breath they threaten me with violence.
Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness
while I am here in the land of the living.
Wait patiently for the Lord.
Be brave and courageous.
Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.