Last week our pastor mentioned, in a sermon on family, that a secular study has found that the thing teenagers most want from their parents is time. That surprised me, because I never remember my dad lacking time for me.
It seems we spent a lot of that time together in the car: driving to his office in the summers when I worked with him, driving to and from ballet and piano lessons, and of course driving on family vacations. Sometimes we listened to Barbra Streisand or Man of La Mancha; sometimes we talked about books or school; sometimes we talked about nothing in particular.
He was willing to be interrupted when he was in his spot on the sofa paying bills, and we didn't hesitate to call him for help when one of my sisters got the stapler stuck to her hand.
He did not shrink from hitting the tennis courts with me nearly every evening of the semester I took tennis for physical education. He was a tennis champion. I was trying to hit the ball accurately enough to pass the class. It must have been exasperating for him, but he kept coming out with me, and at least it was time together. (He coached me into a B for the class. I still enjoy watching the game but have not stepped onto a court since. He fared better with my sisters in the athletic department.)
He also has a knack for making us feel special. At the end of my senior year of high school, the generous parent of one of my Sunday school students gave me a pair of orchestra seats to see West Side Story at the music hall. With two sisters and one seat to fill, I invited my best friend from those years, and we decided to make an evening of it, dress up in formals, and dine at a fancy restaurant.
Dad was smart enough not to let us drive ourselves around Big D alone late at night, so he said he would drive us. He left work early, but instead of his Chrysler LeBaron, this Lincoln Continental was in our driveway:
He wanted to chauffeur us properly in a limousine, but this was the closest he could rent.
Like a proper driver, he went to my friend's door, walked her out to the car, and helped her in. He took us to the restaurant, ate his own sack lunch in the car, drove us to the musical, and waited (probably with a book) until time to drive us home. I think Mom accompanied him to keep him company, but I don't remember for certain, probably due to the imaginary glass barrier between the front and back seats.
These photos lay in a box I recently sorted, and the memories made me smile as a typical example of the thoughtfulness of my dad and how well he has cared for us.
In the last two decades, he has also lavished that care and attention on children in local apartment complexes, orphans across the ocean, and the staff and congregation where he serves as deacon in a painful season of transition.
My dad is a gift from God, and it was a gift to spend the afternoon with him yesterday. It has never been difficult for me to understand the Father-love of God because of the way my dad loves me, and for that I'm so very grateful. If you did not know that kind of love from your earthly father, may the Lord dazzle you with His healing love and delight. Your Father is very fond of you.
The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger and rich in faithful love.
He will not always accuse us
or be angry forever.
He has not dealt with us as our sins deserve
or repaid us according to our offenses.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is His faithful love
toward those who fear Him.
Psalm 103:8-11, HCSB
Happy birthday, Daddy!