My father has been on my mind a lot recently. And not just because of Father’s Day. His health is declining and a terrible dementia is rapidly taking over his mind. A couple of weeks ago, my dad began Hospice care. My step-mother is his primary care giver and I am thankful for the love she has for this once active, strong, and brilliant man. Her love for my dad has not wavered—she is by his side, everyday, for better or for worse. And that vow is truly being tested now.
As an adult, I haven’t been as close to my dad as I would like to have been. Geography and life changes had a lot to do with that. Could he have done a better job of staying involved in my life after my parents divorce? Yes. But I could have done a better job of reaching out to him also. Even though we didn’t spend a lot of time together, and disappointment or frustration sometimes occurred, I have always loved my dad. He played a part in me becoming the person I am today, and over the last few days I have been thinking about some of the ways he influenced me as I was growing up.
- My dad taught me that it was okay to be smart. He didn’t want me to hide my intelligence just because I was a girl.
- My dad told me I could grow up to be anything I wanted to be. He believed I could accomplish anything I put my mind to. (I sometimes worry that I haven’t lived up to my potential).
- My dad taught me not to be like everyone else. If I didn’t always fit in with the crowd, that was okay. He wanted me to be the person God created me to be, not who or what other people thought I should be.
- My dad told me it was okay to ask questions about my faith. In fact, he told me it was my responsibility to do so. He didn’t want me to accept someone else’s faith. He wanted my beliefs to be my own. I think he knew that by asking questions and experiencing God for myself, I would have a stronger relationship with my Creator and a faith that would stand up to life’s challenges.
It occurred to me as I looked back on my childhood, and the role my father played in raising me, that my dad may be a big part of the reason I am a writer today. He wrote sermons weekly and had an amazing vocabulary. Frequently, when we were at the dinner table, my dad would give me a word and ask me if I could spell it and tell him what it meant. It was a challenge I liked and one that I looked forward to, and it could very well have given me my love of words. I hope my dad knows how glad I am that he is my father.
My emotions are all over the place right now. Sometimes I feel normal and calm. At other times I am worried, or sad, or even fearful. Those are the times I need to remember that I also have a Heavenly Father who is walking through this difficult time with my whole family. I know He is with my dad and I know He is giving extra strength to my step-mother. I know He will be here when the news is positive and when it is not. And I am thankful.