“Dad, stop! Stop! Scott fell out!” Brown eyes huge with panic, a healthy dose of fear paralyzed our eight-year-old son midway in the motor home.
Hubby was driving a new-to-us, thirty-foot camper. Confused, he glanced in the rearview mirror, all the way to the back where I had been entertaining our two kids. Our eighteen-month old had bounced off the bed and landed where our eldest son couldn’t see him.
“It’s all right. Scott didn’t fall out,” I assured both my husband and son. “But you might want to pull over.” Digging a wiggling toddler, who hadn’t yet realized his predicament, from the side of the mattress and the carpeted wall, might require more strength than I could muster. Plus our oldest needed reassurance that his younger brother was actually safe inside the camper, not left behind on the pavement. He needed to know that he wasn’t alone with his fear and that we were there for him…
It’s been an emotional couple of weeks at the fire department where my hubby works. We lost two “Dads” in our KFD extended family, so I decided not to wait until Father’s Day to honor my dad. You know my feelings, right? Why wait until a holiday?
My dad is my real life hero and an inspiration for many of the heroes in my books. He may not track down criminals or rope cattle like my book heroes, but he’s strong and solid, and always there when I need him. He’s an anchor, a trusted adviser, a dependable friend, and a great listener who never judges or berates my mistakes. And I’ve made plenty of them!
I’m sure I’m not the only offspring to confess that our relationship hasn’t always been this way. You see, I was a rebellious teenager, definitely not a model child. The grief I gave my dad is probably the reason he doesn’t have much hair left. Or maybe the hair loss had more to do with my parents birthing three daughters spaced just seventeen months apart. What were they thinking trying for that precious boy?? 😀
My dad raised us to be independent. He volunteered our services mowing all the lawns in our neighborhood at a dirt rate price, which I’m sure broke all the child labor laws at the time. lol. He made us change tires until he was confident we wouldn’t be stranded on the side of the road with a flat. Dad modeled a strong work ethic, encouraged us to play sports as well as any guy and with the guys, and challenged us to always keep learning.
But he was also over-protective. What happens when you mix Overprotective Dad with three Missy Independents? A tumultuous household, that’s for sure. I really don’t know how any of us survived our growing up years, including him.
I didn’t truly appreciate my dad until I moved out of the house. After graduation at the mature age of seventeen, I knew it all. By eighteen, I was married, within four years had my first child, and was divorced at twenty two.
Do you think I learned to appreciate my parents then? Oh yeah.
Especially the occasional respite from single parenthood, which allowed me a few days of absolutely wonderful and desperately needed peace considering my toddler son’s dispensation towards daredevil escapades. And what about the few times my dad plucked who-knows-what remains from the back of my car, remnants of the frantic pace of a single woman balancing a demanding career with a Houdini-wannabe child. At the time, I was convinced that my dad did it because he was a neat freak. But later, I realized that’s how he shows his love. Just like the countless times my parents pitched in to help me move, both while I was an apartment manager, and it came with the territory, and even after Ernie and I married. But believe me when I tell you, that debt’s been repaid. 🙂 An avid DIY’r, he’s helped us with numerous home improvement projects, including hanging drywall, room additions, replumbing, crawling in attics, you get the idea.
Love in action. That’s how my father demonstrates his love for me. Much like our heavenly Father, don’t you think?
Just like these precious firefighters who lost their daddies, I know there will come a day when mine isn’t around anymore, and every time I think about it, my heart feels like it is being ripped out of my chest. What will I do without my dad?
How I will miss seeing his face light up as he starts to tell a story, only to laugh so hard that he has to pull out his hanky and blow his nose before he can finish. And he’s a huge NASCAR fan. It’s hilarious the way he’s always pacing the floor, chomping at the bit to hit the road at least thirty minutes earlier than planned. I will miss our driving vacations and our cruises, but I will always cherish the precious memories.
|My Dad and Hubby headed to a NASCAR race, their favorite hobby|
My dad. My hero.
Death strikes all of us eventually. We’re either standing at the graveside, staring into a cavernous hole about to say goodbye to our loved one, wondering how people can go on as if nothing had happened…or we’re the ones driving by, sorrow welling up for the people clustered around a graveside, a heavy cloud of sadness hovering over them.
Life goes on. For the ones who live.
Life begins for the ones who die. Eternal life.
I love you, Dad.
When it comes to time, I’m a firm believer that most people fall into two different categories:
Image courtesy of Bing.com
And he doesn’t just arrive late, he also includes some type of dramatic announcement of his presence, usually a booming, “Well, well, well.” Those of us who like to keep a low profile, well, we’ve learned to adjust or duck our heads in embarrassment, just accepting his energetic personality as one of the things we love about him.
|My sweet hubby|
But, really, whether you’re early or late, does it matter? Sure you might miss a few minutes of an important meeting. You could be fired from a job you loved (but if you really loved it, wouldn’t you make an effort to be on time?). Or a date might have given up waiting at the prearranged meeting spot when you finally scurry in.
But, how about the more important things? Issues with an eternal impact?
I have GREAT news for you stragglers.
When it comes to accepting the precious gift of hope that Jesus so freely offers, it’s NEVER too late.
Nope. It’s never too late. Want to know how I know?
For one, when Jesus was hanging on the cross, two criminals surrounded him, one on each side. They both knew they deserved to die for the crimes they’d committed. One of them taunted Jesus while the other asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom.
How did Jesus respond?
With love and forgiveness. With grace and mercy. With a promise that “today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:39-43, NIV)
Today! Did you catch that? Doomed to suck in his last ragged breath hanging on a cross, that lost soul received the gift of eternal life, the promise that he’d enter heaven’s gate that very day!
Still not enough evidence for you?
How about the parable of the vineyard workers? Early in the morning, a landowner hired workers for his vineyard. After he set them to work, he went out four more times, hiring workers each time. At the end of the day, the generous vineyard owner paid each worker the same salary, no matter what time they arrived. He claimed that it was his money, and his right to do as he pleased. (Matthew 20:1-16, NIV)
Just like that vineyard owner, Jesus offers the same grace, the same precious gift, to the man or woman who comes to Him at the end of their life as the one who comes at an early age.
Do you hear the soft whisper? See the arms stretched wide? He’s waiting for you.