Long before Kobe Bryant and the #GirlDad hashtag, long before hashtags in fact, my dad was already a girldad extraordinaire to my sisters and me.
Among my earliest memories is our weekly tradition of Sunday comics. Every Sunday morning, likely so Mom could get ready for church in peace, Dad would gather us girls up in the living room and read the funny papers to us. From that early age I knew he liked spending time with us and didn't think we were a burden. Sometimes he would stop at the Southern Maid donut shop near White Rock Lake on the way to church too. I remember that's where we stopped because the line drawing of the pretty Southern belle on the box fascinated me.
Once a year, during summer break, I would dress up in my Sunday best and he would take me to work with him. "Take Your Daughter to Work Day" didn't exist yet, but we did it anyway. He would take me out to a special lunch at a grown-up place, just the two of us. In my teens, he would take me to work with him more often. He owned his own business then, so he gave me actual work for an actual paycheck that actually helped him. I guess that was my first opportunity to be his sidekick.
He sat through countless ballet, piano, and voice recitals, synchronized swim presentations, and orchestra and choir concerts. He wasn't exposed to the performing arts as a child, but he embraced them for our sake. He coached one sister's softball and soccer teams. He helped Mom with taxi duty, driving us to ballet and piano and voice and various competitions. Those conversations and unstructured times together are among my life's treasures. When he traveled for work, he would make a funny tableau with our Cabbage Patch Kids before he left as a surprise to make us laugh, and we would do the same right before we went to pick him up at the airport on his return. (Those dolls had secret lives when our backs were turned, and they were pretty mischievous.) He always brought us some small gift back from his travels so we'd know he'd been thinking of us.
|Dad and me, April 2022
He has stood by me in all the plot twists of my life. He has been a good friend to my husband and loved him as a son. We have shared a lot of laughter and a lot of tears. Any time with him is special, because he makes it so.
In recent years, we teamed up again when I was his sidekick for two summers of VBS. That was more fun than anyone ought to have in church! Currently, I have the privilege to serve as his sidekick in caring for my mom, and I'm so very grateful for God-given strength to love Jesus by loving them during this season.
And oh, does he care for her!
I've heard it said that the greatest gift a man can give his children is to love their mother well. If that is true, we girls are of all daughters most blessed. I have never before witnessed such sacrificial love of a husband for his wife. My dad has accomplished many things in his life, including running a business, sharing the gospel at home and abroad, and serving as deacon chair of our church during the most traumatic season of its history. In my (biased) opinion, his greatest legacy of all is the largely unseen living icon of Christ he is writing in the love he pours out on my mother day by day. It is one of the greatest blessings of my life to witness these closing years of their marriage as we walk the slow grief of dementia and he finds himself remembering for two.
Daddy, thank you. Thank you for loving me and loving Mom. Most of all, thank you for loving the Lord and taking the spiritual lead in our extended family. I know your retirement years haven't looked like you expected, but you have accepted your own plot twists with grace. May the Lord bear you up all the days of your life and give you strength for every challenge He gives you. I am confident our heavenly Father will hold you fast, as your favorite verses say.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand (John 10:27-29, ESV).
Daddy, I love you forever and always. xxoo ooxx
P.S. Sorry not sorry for embarrassing you like this. "Flowers for the living" and all that.