A GOOD DAD
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,
for the old order of things has passed away.
My dad died yesterday.
And today I am sad. Not despairing, not grief-stricken, not angry that life isn’t what I wish it was. Just sad.
And I feel a little spoiled in my sadness because I am fully aware that what I lost is so much more than most of you have ever had.
And mind you, I have not lost my father. Because in the early 70’s at a church in California, my dad changed the course of our lives by becoming a follower of Jesus. And now he’s followed Him right up close into His presence, the place I’ll go someday too.
No, I haven’t lost Dad, but I have lost his presence with me.
He’s not here this morning having coffee with cream and two scoops of sugar, talking about what I want to talk about: because that’s what good dad’s do.
And I wish, oh how I wish, that each of you had a dad like mine.
I grieve for you with the Father because He wishes that too. And if you’ll indulge me just a bit, can I tell you about good dads?
Here’s a list:
1. Good dads fix things. My dad fixed my broken hair dryer, my flat tire, my inadequate study habits, my teenage drama with my mom. He made life right for me when I couldn’t turn myself right side up. And even though I told him over and over, I don’t think he ever thought any of that was a big deal. Just dad stuff.
2. Good dads get it. My dad certainly did. He got that I was different, would always be different, and that difference was okay by him. A contemplative feeler, ponderer, thinker, reader in a family of highly competitive task oriented doers. He normalized me to my “lets-get-to-it!” mom and paved the way for us to become friends. Because of him we grieve together without tension.
3. Good dads are present.My father was a brainiac nuclear engineer. Yet he bought cowboy boots when he helped me achieve my dream of having a horse. He learned the lingo: palominos, bits and tie downs, dressage and hoof rot. And I don’t think he actually ever did like that whole equine world, but the truth is, wild horses couldn’t have pulled him from being part of it with me.
4. Good dads stay faithful. My dad did. In good times and bad, he chose to love my mom and to eschew the “grass is greener” temptation to find happiness elsewhere. As long as I can remember, Dad did his level best to love mom well. Dad would have been appalled at any suggestion otherwise.
5. Good dads take care of their own. When he married my mom he was a 19 year old with one goal: to never be poor again. With that in mind he put himself through college, poured himself into his career, lived beneath his income always so that he could give us what we needed. At the same time, his aversion to the risk of credit and the flash of status spending kept all of us grounded in fiscal reality. He bought his jeans at Walmart and his cars used even when he could have afforded much more. He was fiddling with his finances the day before he died, just to be sure mom would be well cared for.
6. Good dads provide safety. My sister’s words to me this morning: “We had a great dad. He made me feel safe…” He did. And I’m not even sure how he did it, though I’m going to think long and hard about that. But mostly I think he was just good and a good man becomes a safe place for his family.
There’s more of course, but this day demands my attention and so I’ll end here for now. Somehow just writing these words helps me to understand why I’m sad today and why that’s okay.
I miss my dad already. I’ll miss him for the rest of my life. And then… my real Father will wipe away every tear and I’ll join my dad in spending the rest of forever in awe of Him.
Waiting with honest eagerness for that Day…
From my heart,
P.S. Thank you to the many of you who have already emailed and texted your heart-felt condolences. I’m relishing every word, drinking in your kindness.