Monday, January 20, 2014
“Beautiful is the man who leaves a legacy that of shared love and life. It is he who transfers meaning, assigns significance and conveys in his loving touch the fine art and gentle shaping of a life. This man shall be called, Father.” ― Stella Payton
My father and I didn’t get along well because we were so much like each other. He saw in me the “him” he had never been but could be. I didn’t know this and constantly let him down as a result without even knowing it. His father had been an abusive drunk who would steal the little money my father made as a child selling papers and would then drink it up. My grandfather, whose name I don’t remember, died in his early forties from alcohol poisoning. My father never mentioned him. My own father lived to within a month of being ninety years old. The month before he died, on Father’s Day, we were with him and he drove us to church and then later barbecued chicken for us, as he done for so many, many Sundays as I was growing up. A month later, he was diagnosed with leukemia and died within a few weeks. While he and I sometimes went months and years without speaking to each other, we were very close in unspoken ways. He was my role model for how to treat others. His generosity is my generosity. His love of his wife is like my love for my wife. We didn’t talk much, and we never hugged. He never said “I love you” but he wrote it at the bottom of a birthday card for me when he was eighty-six years old. It was the first time, but I knew he loved me. When we moved to Boston so that I could go to seminary at Boston University, he was appalled to learn how little we were living on. Without ever saying anything, he sent us a check for $500 every month for the four years we lived there. If I wrote him and thanked him, he would write back, “For what?” I have been alone here for the last few days waiting for an email from the embassy saying that my passport was there—hasn’t happened yet—and I have been thinking about my fathers, both earthly and Heavenly. I am so truly blessed to have had the father I did here on earth. I cannot deserve or earn the love of my Heavenly Father, but thanks to my dad, I can accept it and know what it means. My father has been gone now for over ten years, but he is in my thoughts and heart every single day. The quote above is accurate for him. I can only hope that he is, at last, truly proud of me and what and who I have become. If you love your father, and he is still alive, call him and tell him. My father lived long enough for me to hug him when he could no longer resist and to hear me tell him how much I loved him. For that, I thank God.