I didn't think I would miss him this much. It's my first Christmas without my dad. But Christmas pulls feeling out of you like no other season of the year, and I'm findig myself thinking aobut him a lot.
My love for Dad came late in life. Well, actually it was early and late. With a huge gap in between. When I was little, I had a relationship with him that was very special. The year before I started school, my mom started an office job to support the family. Dad, in poor health, stayed home and supported me. Perhaps, in retrospect, we supported each other. I think now his having to care for me must have been a grounding for him somehow through those turbulent months. I remember visiting the Unemployment Insurance office in Windsor, where there always seemed to be someone who thought my name was "Blondie". I hated that! Then, after stopping for lunch at Grandma Charlotte's - salmon sandwiches and glasses of milk - we would head the few blocks down University Avenue to the Capitol Theatre where Dad would watch the John Wayne matinee while I curled up to nap in the seat next to him. I remember him parting the weeds in one of the deep ditches along the railway track on our way home, and his clear admonishemnts not to touch the nest or the three brown-speckled eggs lying there, or the mother wouldn't return to look after her babies.
There was asparagus picking along the roadsides in early spring, and skating on Devil's Crick in winter. And learning to waltz by standing on his stockinged feet as he danced around the newly polished hardwood floor in the living room. They were golden years.
Then something happened. I'm not sure what. Maybe it was my carefree attitude which resulted in what was most consternating behaviour to most of the adults in my life. Maybe it was the broken pride Dad felt for not being able to support his family. Maybe it was something that can't ever be pinpointed or explained. But something changed.
I became a mystery to Dad. Someone he couldn't understand, much less control. Someone who scared the heck out of him when he thought of how I might turn out. And he became a total jerk to me.
It would be half a century later before this daughter's heart was turned back toward her father, though I'm not sure the father's heart was ever really turned away from me. It was only my perception, I believe now. Perception. How the enemy can twist and use that tool!
I will ever be grateful to Belinda for sharing her journey with her own dad - for giving me hope - for kindling the smalled flicker of desire to see my relationship with my own dad restored. And to my sister Brenda, who modeled for me what a powerful tool in God's hands is "gratitude", especially when mixed with even just a little bit of grace in the way of understanding, acceptance and forgiveness.
Through a series of God-ordained events and many, many, small, incremental changes in my attitude, God began to melt my icy heart and I came to see my dad as the man my mother fell in love with and chose as the father of her children. I began to see my dad through eyes of understanding catastropic events in his childhood and youth, and to appreciate that he very much loved me, it was just that he said so in a lnaguage I had never been able to understand before. But I do now. Thank God for that.
Yeah, I miss my dad this Christmas. I miss him like crazy and I can't wait to see him again. When I think of how I felt just five or six years ago, I know that what happened in my heart was nothing short of a miracle. A miracle he and mom, I strongly suspect, are celebrating together this Christmas. It's their first one in heaven and though I'm sure through all their problems they somehow continued to see heart-to-heart, it's probably their first one ever seeing eye-to-eye. (Smile.)
So I miss my dad, but as I think about the restoration of our relationship, I don't need another single present under the tree this Christmas. Dad's not here where we can see him, but his love still warms my heart. And there he'll always be... What a gift.