I wasn’t able to be with my dad today, but I’ve been thinking a lot about him, and my two grandfathers, and my father-in-law. We were just talking to our kiddos yesterday about how no one achieves or does well at anything does so alone. None of us get anywhere in life without the help and support of others. Nowhere, perhaps, is this more true than in parenting.
My granddaddy died last September. His visitation and funeral was probably all the evidence necessary that he was a great man. He didn’t accomplish much by the world’s standards. But those of us who knew him best are still trying to figure out how to live life around the hole that he left behind. However, sadly, in many ways he thought he had failed. He thought he hadn’t been a good father or grandfather. He thought he had let his family down. I’ve been thinking almost constantly today of a conversation that I had with my dad the day after the funeral about how my granddaddy had been convinced that he had been a failure. That breaks my heart because it is absolutely not true, and we all tried to tell him so, and I’d have given anything for him to have woken up that last night for us to have tried one last time to convince him otherwise. But in thinking about that conversation so much on this first Father’s Day without Granddaddy, I can’t help but wonder if I’ve ever expressed adequately my thankfulness to my own dad, and to my other grandfather, and to Clay’s dad for all that they mean in my life. Maybe this would be better done in a vocal conversation but I confess my ability to communicate my thoughts comes much more naturally through my fingers than through my voice. So forgive my hiding behind the keyboard and know that this is no less from my heart for being typed rather than spoken.
Dad, I fear that you may harbor some thoughts similar to Granddaddy’s. I know you’ve spoken of times in our childhood when you felt like you had let us down or not been a good dad. Let me just say, and I guess I’m speaking for myself but I have a hunch that the others would agree, that I never picked up on that. It wasn’t until I was an adult and you told me about some of it that I had any clue that we had gone through some tough times as a family. This makes much more sense to me since I have had a similar situation as a parent. Clay and I will always look back on the time from when we left Beechmont to a couple months before we moved to Salem as extremely dark, extremely stressful, extremely difficult. In some ways it’s a blur, and I look back now and wonder how we ever got through it without tearing each other apart or just giving up altogether. But the funny thing is, our kids have no clue. Granted, they were pretty small, but somehow we managed to keep most of it from them, and I’m here honestly telling you that you were able to do the same, because when I think of my childhood, I think of nothing but happy. When I think about you, I think of safe, love, fun, silly, protected. I still remember faking sleep after church on Sunday nights so that you would carry me to the car because I loved how it felt to be carried by you. I still remember getting tickled everytime you called me a nincompoop. I remember every dance recital, dancing my heart out on stage and only being able to see one person in the audience–you, because you were standing right against the stage with your camera. I remember how good it felt when you told me you were proud of me. I remember being so scared and stressed out the times I went against your advice, namely about my wedding date, because your opinion mattered so much to me. But even when I didn’t take your advice, your love and support never wavered. I’m sure that hasn’t been the only time that you’ve thought I was doing something unwise, but I have never felt anything less than your love. You said on Mother’s Day in Sunday school that your kids had the best mom there was. I agree. And we had the best dad, too.
And Grandpa, your legacy is strong as a dad in the dad your son became. I am so blessed to have two grandfathers who each lived such a godly life for their children and grandchildren to follow. You have touched so many lives with your kindness and generosity and love. I am humbled that God would have been so good to give me the heritage that I have. I love you. And Steve, I’ve noticed more and more lately when the kids beg for stories about when we were little, how much you factor into many of Clay’s stories, as a coach or a Cub Scout leader or just taking him somewhere. He is an incredible dad to his growing brood and I am so thankful that he had such a godly model to follow.
In a world of broken families and absent fathers and horrifying statistics, I am just awed at the gift I have in my father, grandfathers, father-in-law, and husband. May I never be guilty of letting that thankfulness go unspoken, even if it is spoken through a keyboard. I would never want any of you to wonder if you were a good dad or not the way my granddaddy did. I could not begin to raise my children without the example you all have been. Thank you for helping us raise our family simply by having been faithful to raise your own. Happy Father’s Day. I love you all.