When I was growing up, it was often hard living with my Dad. The robust son of Irish and German parents was raised an only child, did his stint in the army, and tried his best to run a business while raising five kids.
He was too strict, I thought.
He was hard to please, I thought.
There were days I hated him for the way I was treated and they way he treated my mom and the rest of the family.
I figured he was simply a mean person, and I knew that one day I would grow up and get away from him once and for all.
But then a funny thing happened, I went to college and was amused by his daily phone calls to me –giving me his rendition of a pun or joke of the day. He would call each morning and tell me the joke and say, “that’s all I got” and hang up. If he didn’t call, I missed it and would call him.
As I grew up, got married, had five children and was faced with a difficult relationship of my own, he seemed to understand my feelings of suffocation. He comforted me–I guess he was changing, softening……..or was it me, developing the eyes of an adult?
When he nearly died of a heart attack and surgery requiring seven bypasses, I began to see my dad as a little boy…insecure, hurting and scared and hungering for the Father’s love. My heart softened. I remember numerous conversations where we asked for forgiveness from each other. We talked of faith, of our walk with the Lord, and for once, we felt complete as a father and daughter should.
I had more time with my Daddy.
Later, as he developed congestive heart disease, diabetes and a host of other ailments, his mind began to slow–much too soon. I tried to remain patient and repeated conversations that I had just a few moments earlier. At 65, he was much too young to be so forgetful…so sick.
As I made plans for Easter dinner on that Holy Thursday back in 2000, I knew it was finally my chance to take care of Mom and Dad–to host dinner at my house for once instead of selfishly expecting my mom to do it all. My little boy, Erin, who was 2 at the time, played Ants in the Pants with my unusually frail Dad as I visited with Mom in the kitchen about what to make for dinner.
It was a great day and inside, I felt closer to my Dad than I ever had.
The next day he went home to be with Jesus.
I miss you every day Dad–and I am grateful that this selfish girl had a chance to make things right with you before you passed.
Today I learned that my friend Cheli, who is estranged from her children was severely injured in a jetski accident. It is unknown how much brain damage she has suffered. As I watch my friend her fight for her life, I pray that all parents estranged from their children are blessed with the same opportunities I had to reconcile with my Dad, before it is too late.