Sunday, June 21, 2015

"As If You Were Mine..."

Father’s Day evokes a myriad of emotions for many.  While some of us lived the Father of the Bride closeness with our biological fathers--”I couldn’t love anything more”--some of us didn’t have that storybook relationship.  Our dads may have been the life of the party and someone everyone knew of--but no one really knew.  That was my dad.  He was a fun-loving, competitive-to-a-fault sports fanatic.  He hunted, he fished, he played golf--and he grilled huge slabs of cow on the Weber.  He knew magic tricks, taught me some of the finer points of Black Jack (he did casino nights for charity organizations, as a side business, for a decade or so), and was a heck of a dancer. I get that from him--wink!   We were more like casual acquaintances that had fun together. Divorce will do that.  Sometimes, physical separation and occasional weekend visits don’t allow for much more.  No matter the “status”, I loved my dad.  And, I knew he loved me.  He had a hard time expressing it.  It took me years to realize that because I was so verbal--I couldn’t fathom why it would be so difficult to express affection.  If discerning love languages had a been a trend back then, he would be the one who demonstrates love by acts of service.  He worked hard--and he lived hard.  I like to think that he would have been awfully proud of his two grandsons.  And just might have met his match in these sports trivia aficionados. 

Pop-Pop.  My dad’s dad.  I was the apple of his eye and he was my first love.  The only grandchild until the age of 21, I wasn’t spoiled or anything.  He played cards with me, taught me silly piano duets and crazy ditties like “Little Brown Jug” and “I’m A Nervous Wreck”.  He built a dollhouse with me and fashioned the neighborhood’s best tire swing (We should have charged admission!).  He picked me up from school every Friday afternoon where we visited 7-11, purchasing a Coke Slurpee and a Cheez-n-Crackers snack.  In the 25-minute ride back to my grandparent’s house, I sometimes dozed off.  Likely from the effects of a sugar high crashing down upon me.  There is one common thread in all of that--he spent time with me.  He listened to me, he laughed with me, and he loved me.  He was a hugger, would often steal “sugar” from my neck, and as I got older, he would graciously but warily “inspect” the young men that I deemed suitable to cross his threshold.  Interestingly enough, my Philosopher was always his favorite.  Imagine that.

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

Remember that Economics professor who invited us in for a piece of pie whom I mentioned in an earlier post (Of Sailfish and Bulldogs)?  I was one of those who never left.  I would say that he became “like a father” to me; but, in truth, he became a father to me.  His unconditional love and encouragement, coupled with his infamous shrug and non-verbals that spoke volumes, helped me to grasp how much my Heavenly Father loved me.  I babysat his children who, in turn, 20 years later, would “hang out” with mine.  He is Pan, I am Rufio.  He is godfather to our Ninja.

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

There is a lovely meme which says something like “I never knew how much I loved your Daddy until I saw how much he loved you”.  And, oh my heart, is that ever the truth.  A bouquet of long-stemmed roses is nice--or dinner at a favorite restaurant is sweet.  But as I watch my Philosopher coach his boys on the finer points of hoops, instruct He Who is Now Taller than I in the lost art of pancake-making, or answering those tough questions that ricochet around in my Ninja’s mind, in the dark of night, my heart melts.  As our eldest saunters into teenage-land later this week, I am grateful that he has a father who will walk beside him, guiding him, listening to him, and whose presence provides a stability and security that many young men (and women) crave.  And, it is the Heavenly Father on whom his earthly father leans for strength and wisdom.  He is not perfect.  Nor would he claim to be.  But, our Heavenly Father is perfect.  That’s a relief.

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

Oh, and did I mention that when I married my Philosopher, I also got a super father-in-love? He’s exceedingly gregarious, “infinitely flexible” (an inside joke), and does more before 9am than most folks half his age.  He is passionate about the Truth, unapologetically likes what he likes, and places his cereal bowl in the freezer each night.  Why?  Because who wants to eat cereal, with cold milk, in a lukewarm bowl?  Perfectly logical.  I am the only one of his “kids” who is not taller than he--he likes that.  And, he loves my mother-in-love with every fiber of his being.  After nearly 45 years of marriage, they still like each other.  And, they love being together.  Another gift they have given their children--of which I am a beneficiary.   I got a bonus Dad.  That’s pretty cool.  

God’s grace is lavish and unfailing.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love” ~ Jeremiah 31:3

Yes, you. And me. Us.

God’s grace is lavish.   Unfailing.  Everlasting.

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