The gift of fathers

I'd wake before the sun, and follow the hallway into the yellow light that was thrown from the kitchen.  My bare feet padded across the cool linoleum floor and stood waiting until I was invited up onto his lap.  There were remnants of runny eggs streaked across the white plate before him, and a lukewarm cup of coffee that I knew from experience tasted more like sugar and cream.  When he left for work, the mug would remain in my possession; a gift for early risers.

The remembering of him during my childhood flows in and out of my mind.  Moments emerge and collect into categories.  My adulthood analyzes, organizes, assigns.

We didn't have a lot of money, but we were never in need.  My Dad would leave us early in the morning to drive 18 wheelers until late in the evening.  Mom nurtured us kids.  Dad provided for us.

Before I reached my teen years, he managed to work as a truck driver and go back to college.  After graduating, he began to pastor a church and for decades he never took a salary.  It was more work, more time, more sacrifice without the benefit of more money.  He never complained.  I believe it has been one of his life's greatest pleasures to serve God and others.

My Dad turns 71 this year.  Sometimes I grab hold of his hand, and wonder at how much it still looks and feels like it did so many years ago.  Those hands have led, and loved, and pushed swings dangerously high into the air.  They have held the worn and wounded and folded together in prayer with the sick and dying.  Rest has smoothed some of the rougher parts that hard work left behind, but strength, sacrifice, integrity, humility, provision, security and love remain.

I remember thinking that I wanted to marry a man with rough hands just like my dad's.  My husband, he takes my hand in his.  I feel small and feminine in comparison.  His hands are not rugged, but the curves and the lines tell many of the same stories.   I feel safe, protected, respected and cared for.

My children one day will take notice.  Their adulthood will analyze, organize, and assign their own memories of their childhood.  And that is when a new generation will celebrate the gift of Godly fatherhood.


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