by Jane Anderson, Columnist & Featured Contributor
I’ve been blogging now long enough that I’ve passed a few Father’s Days. If you’ve read this before, or reading it the first time, I hope you can identify with my story and had a dad like mine or that you are a dad like mine.
It seemed longer back then, but I only had you for 19 years of my life. You died before my own kids could experience your life as a grandfather, but I know you would have been a gentle, godly role model for them. It’s Father’s Day and in just a few days you would be 96! I’m getting older too. But here are some of my best memories of life as a small town preacher’s kid.
First, my best memory was waking up to the sizzle of frying bacon and the warm aroma of eggs, toast and coffee in this aromatic symphony that told me morning had arrived. I’d wander out to the kitchen and there you were reading your Bible at the table, with your small loose leaf notebook propped up in front of you.
I remember how you wore work clothes all day because you were always building or fixing or working on projects for us or for someone in the community. When someone needed a spiritual leader to visit with them or officiate a funeral, you were the only preacher in town, so you got the call. You would never visit anyone dressed in canvas, you always dressed in your white shirt and dress-up clothes. You said it was being respectful to the other person. I understand that now. Thank you for teaching me that there is more than one way to show respect.
I remember listening to baseball games on the radio and the commotion in our living room during games. Remember when Vance used my stuffed rabbit for a football, reenacting football games during their broadcast? There was no instant replay back then. I think that’s where the Nerf ball got its start, in our living room. If there was a team who never seemed to get it right, I remember how you always rooted for the underdog. Thank you for teaching me that everyone deserves a cheerleader, especially those that aren’t the best.
I remember when David climbed up on the roof of our house to find you working up there. Instead of yelling at him like so many other dads would do, you gently and calmly persuaded him to keep walking toward you until you could grab him and carry him back to safety. Thank you for teaching me that being gentle and staying calm diverts disaster. I remember when you raised your voice, it was always in supportive coaching – and well, I have to admit that sometimes from behind the pulpit, you got your point across. I guess you had to amp up the volume a little then. Thank you for teaching me that angry yelling solves nothing.
I remember how you loved the young people at our church and you were always trying to find ways to bring them together to learn about God and to assure their eternal destiny. I remember you talked mama into letting us have a ping pong table in the living room so the teens could come over and play ping pong during the winter. I remember going to youth rallies, sledding parties in the winter and going to Lake Michigan in the summer. I remember begging to swim when the temperature in the air was barely 55 degrees outside. Mama said no, but you said yes. Thank you for teaching me that sometimes it’s OK to do crazy things.
I remember when our church pianist quit coming to church and you said, “Well, Janie. I guess you’re just going to have to learn to play the piano.” I remember Janet teaching me the notes before she got married and moved away and with that knowledge and a piano, I practiced hours every day and you didn’t complain.
I remember the day you said I was good enough and you wanted me to start playing in church. We had a guest speaker a few weeks later and I remember how you beamed when he said I was really good. I’m certain I wasn’t that good, but that gave me confidence. Thank you for having confidence in me and teaching me that getting results is the effect of hard work and lots of practice. I may have given joyful noise a new definition but you were proud of me.
Most of all, I remember how compassionate you were to everyone. Even when cantankerous people swore at you and put you down, you prayed for them. I remember when you picked up hitchhikers and brought them home for some hot chocolate and toast with peanut butter…..our meal of champions at our house.
When I started bringing friends home I remember mama saying that now we were both bringing home strays. Thank you for teaching me that everyone needs to know someone cares about them. I didn’t get the deep compassionate gene, that you had, daddy, but I learned enough about how to use the small portion I did get, from your example.
I wonder if it’s Fathers’ Day in heaven. If not, someday I will see you again and I’ll tell you all these things. You taught me the most important thing in life is to accept Jesus as my own personal savior with my name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Thank you for teaching me that the only way to live a successful life on Earth is to assure I have an eternal home in heaven.
I still love you, Daddy. I’ll see you someday.