I CAN SKIP FATHER’S DAY CARDS NOW.
I don’t have to send them anymore.
I don’t have to remember to make that phone call.
I don’t have to figure out a comfortable way of thanking Dad for all he did to help me through my childhood and into my adult years.
He won’t get my mail.
He can’t take my call.
He can’t hear my compliments, far as I know.
He died some 17 years ago. That’s a lifetime for a teenager, anxious to move out.
You’d think by now it wouldn’t hurt so much.
You’d think that after all these years the part of me that died with him would have made room for something else.
You’d think by now I could write this without tears and tissues.
I’m not finding any consolation in the Bible. At least nothing specific to someone missing their father.
It seems odd to me that in the patriarchal age in which the Bible was written, I can’t seem to find a moving tribute to a father.
I can find a wonderful tribute to a mother. It’s the last chapter in the book of Proverbs. It was written by a woman.
At least the mysterious king identified as the writer said that what he wrote “was taught by his mother” (Proverbs 31:2 CEV).
I believe the Bible was written by people inspired by God. And I believe God still inspires people.
If God inspires us now, are the words we write or speak any less sacred than the words of Scripture? Any less true? Any less treasured?
Is it possible that something we would say to our father today could be part of the Bible’s missing tribute to dads?
I’m not suggesting that what we would write needs to get inserted into the Canon. But I am saying that I believe it’s possible for God to inspire us to write things, say things, and do things that are every bit as sacred as the words we read in the Bible.
Dad was honest. I never told him that.
Dad was slow to speak. He grew up in a family every bit as dysfunctional as any normally dysfunctional family I ever met, with a few exceptions of families exceptionally dysfunctional. In all the years I lived with Mom and Dad, I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone in his family. Not his mom or dad. Not his brothers or his sister.
He loved me. He wasn’t the type of person to say that very often, though the cancer and chemotherapy softened him in that way. Even before he spoke those words I could tell he loved me by the way he protected me. He got me my first job. He negotiated for my first car. From 800 miles away over the phone he talked me through putting the starter on my busted car.
Words like these may not be sacred to you. But they are sacred to me.
I don’t know if there are any connections between this life and the next. But if there are, and if Dad isn’t too busy to read this, I want to remind him of what I told him once before.
“You were a good father to me.”
I should have told him that more than one measly time.
He still is a good father to me.
He might be gone from my space. He might be the biggest hole in my heart. But he’ll always be my dad. I’ll always be his son.
Wherever I go, I’ll take him with me. I have to. He shaped my life. I am me because of who he was.
I think in that way Good Fathers everywhere are modeled after Creation’s Father. I don’t know that for sure. But I’d like to think that God is a lot like Dad in some ways, but a better cook.
I could live with that.
Stephen, I appreciate your emails. This one today about your father is a keeper. When I was a boy, I was thankful to my father and all he did. Took care of me, cooked for me and did all the fatherly everyday things. In my child mind, I always thought he’d be with me forever. Now that I’m closer to the half century mark in age and and my Dad himself much older, I ponder about these things also, but with more urgency as I don’t know how much longer I might have him with me. Your expressions remind me that I should continue to express in word and deed, “you were a good father to me”. Funny thing, this takes on more meaning for me as he is my step father. I never knew my biological progenitor. My Dad and Father is he took care of me from infancy until this day, he continues to be a Father who loves his son. I must, with urgency show my gratitude and not just keep it in my heart. My Fathers example is what I strive to follow as I parent my six year old daughter. Thank you for penning your personal feelings today. They have touched a heart and made a difference.
Stephen M. Miller
Thanks, Juan. For many of us, it’s surprisingly awkward to express our love and appreciation to the people who mean the most to us. But practice makes perfect. God bless you, your stepdad, and the other people in your life.