I want to share with you this Father’s Day something I wrote a few years ago just before Memorial Day, which is also when I am writing this column. It is memories of my own dad.
“It’s Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend. Our family is together for one of the few times we have left before our kids start going their different ways pursuing their life’s callings. I woke up this morning with an intense sadness. I miss my Dad … . I miss him being a part of my life. You know it’s funny, I can never remember the date when my dad died. I can’t remember the month, or the day of the week or even the year. But I remember being there when he spoke his last words to me. I knew he had been sick and had suffered a stroke. I knew I needed to go see him, but leaving Alaska was such that I had to decide what was to be the right time. I wanted to spend time with him as I didn’t know where all this was going to lead. Then I heard he had another stroke. I felt I needed to go. But with only so much time and money, I wanted to make it count. Then he had another stroke and I immediately got on a plane and went to be with him and my family. I arrived and the first evening I was with him, I told him “I love you, Dad.” He said, “I love you too.” Then he went to sleep and stayed sleeping until he passed away a few days later.
I miss talking to him and telling him what we’ve been up to. I miss his simple look at life. I miss his laugh, especially when it was over something he thought was funny. Mom would give him her “mom scowl” of disapproval, then turn away in exasperation hiding her own smile that she couldn’t help come across her own face.
Maybe I miss dad more today because it’s Memorial Day Weekend and you remember those who have passed on. Maybe it’s because I enjoyed going camping with dad and watching him so enjoy sitting around a roaring campfire, warming up to its radiating warmth. That brings a flood of memories back to me.”
When dad wasn’t working extra jobs or long hours he was often helping out a neighbor or someone from church.
I don’t know how often, but I know it was often that he was out helping someone clear some ground, cutting down a tree or helping a widow lady with some heavy work or fixing a car. He was always willing to make someone’s life a little easier. Every summer while my grandparents had their farm, dad was out there helping get in their hay. Of all the time I spent with my dad, probably the majority of it was spending it working with him doing one task or another.
I learned some great lessons from dad. Commitment to the Lord was not an option. Through thick or thin, walking with the Lord was most important. We went to church whenever the doors were open. Church was a big part of our life.
Hard work didn’t hurt anyone, well most of the time. But you work hard and give your best at whatever you are supposed to be doing. Whether you are getting paid or not, do your best and do a good job. Make do for yourself and don’t expect others to do for you. People got their own worries and responsibilities without having to worry about you or be responsible for you. If you need something, work for it. If you need extra, work extra for it. Make sure you uphold your end of the bargain and fulfill your responsibilities to your family, to your church, to your employer; to your community, to whoever. Whenever you do need help, make sure you show great appreciation.
Regrets! I certainly regret not spending more time with Dad. He was a really good person. He loved the Lord. He served God faithfully for many years. He worked hard all his life to provide for us. But, still, I wished I could have spent more time with him.
Young or old, still living or not, perfect or not, I honor my dad.
I hope you can, too. Happy Father’s Day!
• Dan Wiese is pastor of the Church of the Nazarene. “Living Growing” is a weekly column written by different authors and submitted by local clergy and spiritual leaders.