Posted tagged ‘Father’s Day’

Dad’s Day Without Dad

June 17, 2018

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                June 17, 2018

                                 

It’s a weird feeling this morning! Today is the first Father’s Day I’ve experienced without Dad! He passed away four months ago at the wise old age of 89. Tomorrow would have been his 90th birthday. there’s

Dad has always been there. Though we were separated by five states his presence never seemed to be far away. Our Sunday night phone chats became our routine. When he didn’t answer his phone I worried…so I’d call my sister to see if he was okay. More times than I can remember he’d call me back as I’d be talking to her. I’d switch calls over to him and after answering he’d give his customary reply: “Well, hi son!”

“Did I get you at a bad time, Pops?”

“Well, I was on the pot!” He would say it like it was an unusual occurrence. 

Today, however, things have changed. It’s Father’s Day without Dad. It has the feel of eating fried chicken without also having mashed potatoes and gravy. Kind of strange and empty. 

My dad was a consistent man of faith, an even-paced Jesus journeyer. Through all his radiation treatments for cancerous growths on his ear, nose, and bladder, he never lost his humor and lightheartedness. The radiation technicians at St. Mary’s Hospital loved on him, enjoyed him, and treated him like their own father. When his name was called to come on back from the waiting area for his radiation “zap moment” of the morning he would always have a word for the attendant that would bring a chuckle and a smile. It’s how he was. His bouts with cancer weren’t seen as being setbacks, but rather moments in his journey.

When I became a father back in 1981, like any first-time dad, I had the deer-in-headlights look. What do I do? What don’t I do? I had taken a class back when I was a student at Judson College, taught by Professor Ted Hsieh, entitled “Marriage and The Family”. I still have the notes from that class, and I was tempted, when Kecia Corin Wolfe arrived, to get the lecture notes on parenthood back out and do a quick review. Instead, however, I looked into the mirror of my memories of Dad. What would Dad do? What did Dad do? How I fathered my own three children had the imprint of his parenting impression of us.

And so today I’m living with his memories, impacted by his personality. I’ll go out for a run this afternoon and wear the University of Kentucky hat that was his. As I’m huffing and puffing it will seem like he is close at hand. As my feet trudge along I’ll recall some of my favorite “Pops Stories” that I listened to numerous times, and yet, never tired of the warmth they would bring to my soul. 

It’s just weird! Dad’s Day without Dad…it sounds like the title of a horror film! In essence, it’s simply where I am on my journey, a place of wonderful memories and an aching grief.

Enjoying Dad

June 18, 2017

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                         June 18, 2017

                                        

Today is my dad’s 89th birthday! Extraordinary, considering he had a heart attack when he was 62! 62…that’s one year younger than my age right now!

He is sharing his birthday with Father’s Day, a double star on the family calendar! So today Carol and I will celebrate with him, probably take him out for dinner tonight, and talk about what was, what is, and what is to come.

I’m a bit surprised that his 89th has even come to be. Last year we were back for an Ohio visit on his 88th. When he blew out the candles (Two candles of the number “8”, not 88 candles!) someone asked him what he wished for and he cleverly replied, “89!”

I’ve reached the enjoyment stage with Pops. It’s a place that many sons and daughters don’t arrive at. Fathers often regress in their children’s minds from being strict to irrelevant to crotchety! The next generation moves out and moves on, living their own lives with just a hint of their fathers’ influence and presence.

Sad, but true! We become so self-absorbed with careers, our own kids, and our own routines that our parents become people in the rearview mirror.

I’m increasingly thankful that I’ve reached the point of “enjoying Pops!” Last night as we broke bread together at a local restaurant I peppered him with some questions about his courtship with Mom. How that came to be? How long had they known each other? What drew him to her, and vice-versa?

Our conversation was punctuated by amazement and laughter, as family stories were shared and details discovered. My dad had lost his dad when he was 14 in a mining accident. He shared the events of that story, the loss and the ripple effect of that loss. Losing his dad meant that my grandmother had to move him and his two siblings to Wittensville, Kentucky to live with his Uncle Sam, thus setting in motion a series of events that brought him together with my mom at Oil Springs High School.

My generation, and any generation once removed from their parents, tends to forget the stories of our past that have brought us to where we are in the present. We minimize the importance of pre-history, that is… the stories of our parents that precede our existence.

And so we talked and laughed. When my dad laughs his whole body shakes, especially his shoulders and head. He often slaps his knee with his right hand in extended appreciation of the humorous episode that was just shared.

I’ve noticed a few other things that stand out about him and his life. He has several University of Kentucky hats, fashion displays of his college alma mater. The other day he asked me to get him a Kentucky hat from the closet to wear. Expecting for there to be one UK hat when I opened the closet door I was a bit taken back to see “the collection” on the the top shelf.

I’ve enjoyed watching him converse with his “neighbors”, the other thirty people or so who live at Wyngate, a senior living complex in Proctorville, Ohio. Meal time at Wyngate is more about telling stories, and other stories as a result of the stories, than it is about the food. What can you say about egg salad? Not much, but you can tell a number of stories from when your family had chickens back in the day…that cause other stories very loosely connected to chicken to spring up!

Enjoying Dad has a warmth to it that is comfortable and satisfying. Watching the many Wyngate Widows smiling at him is a little hard to get used to, but also causes me to smile. Yesterday I joined him for lunch and we sat with two Wyngate ladies. I could tell that they find him charming and…enjoyable!

So today I’m going to seek to be showered with his laughter and bathed in his tales of what has been. I’m simply going to enjoy Pops!

The Dad Effect

June 16, 2013

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                                    June 16, 2013

It’s Father’s Day, a special day where it’s okay for dads to watch back-to-back football games…except it’s not football season. Obviously the placement in June of Father’s Day was a conspiracy created by moms who felt guilty that they had a day that honored them…but not too guilty!

Our dads affect us in different ways. This has been a hard week for me, knowing that my dad has been in a Huntington, West Virginia hospital for part of it with heart problems…while I’m here in Colorado within a couple of miles of the devastating fires. I was able to talk to him on the phone today. He sounded tired and he promised me that he had his feet up as he was watching the U.S. Open golf tournament on TV.

I see the remnants of my dad’s mark upon my life in numerous ways. For instance, I like a freshly groomed lawn. I didn’t learn that from Home and Garden magazine. It came from my dad. Even today as an eighty-five year old he has I nicely manicured yard, although it is now my brother-in-law, Mike, who does the cutting on it.

He exercised patience. Grilling hamburgers was meant to be done with care and attention. The patties were even turned carefully. A neck tie was to be tied until it was right. Polished shoes for Sunday church was not to be rushed. I can see it today with how he cares for my mom, who is now bed-ridden. He feeds her dinner, a process that requires a good forty-five minutes if Mom is cooperating; more if she decides not to. Dad doesn’t press. When Mom’s attention fades he very gently draws her back to the present. People will tell you that I’m a patient person. You have to be to coach girls’ basketball, but I learned it from watching my father. Although I have some of his patience, I am not on the same level as him. For instance, I’ve encouraged him not to make spaghetti for Mom at dinner time ever again- an experience in torturous perseverance.

My dad is about as friendly as you can be. When he is able to attend Sunday worship at church people’s spirits are raised just by his presence. People have described me as friendly. I would like to think that a big part of that trait comes from my Dad’s influence upon me. To him everyone has value, and everyone needs a friend. Although he is a long-time Democrat he makes Republicans feel listened to and valued.

Perhaps most of all, my dad has affected my spiritual walk. We always went to church when I was a kid. If we weren’t home we were usually at church…Wednesday night, Sunday morning, Sunday night. But church attendance wasn’t an indicator of his faith. I remember countless times walking into the kitchen/dining room of our house and seeing his Bible and Sunday School teacher’s guide laying open on the table. We always prayed at dinner. When I travel back to southern Ohio to visit now I feel honored when he asks me to say the blessing for dinner, although I am deeply moved when I hear the words of a prayer coming from his lips. Being a pastor I have tried to never use guilt with my kids about church…although I’m sure that there have probably been a few times through the years when I have been guilty of using guilt. I desire for each of them to have a faith walk, which isn’t necessarily the same as a church attendance sheet. My hope is that I’ve been a good example for them, a person of conviction and faith. If so, the influence of my father has extended to two generations, and now with our two grandkids, both who battle to say meal grace, three generations.

I’m extremely fortunate to have a dad, and the dad that I’ve had. I think of the increasing percentage of children who now have absentee fathers, or don’t even know their dads, and I think, who will be the person to step into the gap for them?

Thank you, Pops! Thanks for being real, not put-on. Thanks for keeping high standards, and expecting your kids to have high standards. Thanks for loving us even when we were unlovable.