Monday, March 24, 2008

Our Father and My Daddies

I promised a more interesting post. Hope this measures up.

Recent events and conversations with loved ones have stirred some musings about spirituality. I am blessed to be surrounded by deeply spiritual people, all of whom are actively seeking God and His purpose for their lives. Some feel touched, some stumble forward, some squint up at the sky, some shake their heads, some shake their fists. All are searching.

I think in the past year I have been at every one of these places in my journey. Today I happened upon a realization - that God spoke to me in ways and at times that I did not recognize as such.

I must be careful here not to appear to bash my father. I believe he did the best he could with what he had at his emotional disposal. But he didn't do his job. He was never a "daddy" the way my husband is to my girls. It was what it was.

But what nature didn't provide, God did. You see, throughout my life, men have stepped up and claimed me as a daughter. There was my step-grandfather, Willis Dudley, whom all the adults seemed to disrespect. He was the first person to kiss a smashed finger and make it "all better." What an astounding medical treatment! I never cared that he had a checkered past (whatever that meant). He made me feel safe.

There was my great uncle, George Barker, who sensed that something was missing in my young life and told me that I was special as I sat on his lap and rubbed his bald head. After his passing, his son Mike extended his unconditional love to me. Mike means the world to me.

When my father, the sole possessor of a driver's license in our household, failed to come pick me up from elementary school after I suffered a concussion on the playground (and again when I laid my eyelid wide open, gushing blood all over the hallway), the school principal drove me home. He held my hand and assured me that everything would be just fine.

Lynn Montgomery, the father of a friend, picked me up for church every Sunday and Wednesday for six years when I was a young girl. Although I never spoke of my home life, there was probably no ignoring my frightened demeanor. He taught me to laugh at the mundane. He just talked to me. He told me I was beautiful and smart. He took my trembling hand and walked me to the front of the sanctuary on the day I was baptized.

My friend Veda's dad, whom I always just referred to as Dad, adopted me when Veda was in the hospital battling cancer. She made a remarkable recovery. And every time I saw them in the community, he bear-hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. He would tease his wife about me being his long-lost daughter. I would blush, and the joke would be repeated the next time. We laughed about that at his funeral.

I recently wrote of Bob Coleman, God rest his wonderful soul. At that same church there was Tom Hendricks, who asked me on his death bed to sing at his funeral and whose son told me how much Tom loved me the day he passed. There was Armand Arnold, who visited me everyday when I worked at Bob's church and took the Not-So-Little-One for walks and fed her doughnut holes.

Let it not go unnoticed that these men asked for nothing in return. They received love and admiration in spades, but it wasn't a requirement. They touched me in all the ways a father should touch a daughter - with hugs, with warm looks, with praise, with guidance, with patience.

And here is an amazing thing - the blessing has been extended to my daughters. Even though their grandfather is not present in their lives, loving little old men have embraced them. Bob and Armand argued about who was the best grandpa. Armand opened his eyes one last time the night before he died to hold the Not-So-Little One's hand as she told him "goodbye." And in our new church home Forres Price brings them trinkets on holidays and tells them how pretty they are.

I'm not sure why it is that God allows us to suffer. I let much smarter folks than I debate that. All I know is that God has blessed me lots of times. I wasn't deserving, I never asked, and I didn't always see it when it was right in front of me. But it has always been there. I haven't even mentioned the women He has sent to me since my mother's passing. I'll save that for a future post.

No comments: