Notes from Jan

Not Another Tie!

June 13, 2024

Dad’s Day is Sunday. And I’m pretty sure none of the men I know, whether uncles, brothers, dads, nephews, cousins, friends, grandfathers or sons, are hoping they’ll get another tie. For one thing, they wear them less than they used to. And for another some don’t know how to tie them anymore. So scratch ties.

But what to give? Well, I think words and actions from the heart matter more. Like cleaning up a mess you didn’t make, but needs tending by somebody. Or, maybe something hurtful, done or said, that needs to be made right. Life’s short. Trust me. Just an eye blink ago, I was a kid.

And that makes me think of my Dad, who I called Daddy. For some of his life he was a pastor. But he wasn’t preachy. Three of Daddy’s best gifts to me were: he was funny, listened well, and he believed I could do anything. I miss him. And I don’t think one ever outgrows the need for a dad, or a father figure.

For sure he wasn’t perfect. He needed saving grace and mercy like the rest of us. But sometimes I think to help a child laugh is better than serving up another sermon. My Daddy taught me to ride a bike, throw and hit a ball. He sat in a chair nearby while I practiced piano or trumpet and made me feel like I was the star attraction at Carnegie Hall. He took my questions seriously and nudged me to believe I was smarter than my report cards. That took a leap of faith, hope and charity!

Truth be told, he shouldn’t have been as helpful and caring as he was. He was the runt in his family. However, not in size, at 6 feet 2 inches tall. But in how he was viewed. Mistreated. And the pastorate was hard for him, too. But he didn’t quit on life or Jesus, when the worst kept happening to and around him.

Back before Kleenex, folks used handkerchiefs. I learned to iron on Daddy’s. Sometimes he pulled one from his pocket to wipe my tears or dab at a skinned knee or elbow. After he died, I took some of Daddy’s handkerchiefs for my tears. And as a reminder that the Jesus he loved and served saw tears Daddy shed, when we weren’t looking. Sometimes for what he did. And sometimes for what others did or didn’t do.

Life’s complicated, as are we. Heaven and hell’s in each of us to some degree. And we make choices each day to move one direction or the other, and those closest to us reap the benefits or consequences. But on days when I want to give up about something or some one, I see Daddy sitting on the porch, waiting and watching for his prodigal son to come home. My brother said he was on his way. But far off takes time. Still Daddy waited, not with a lecture but with love. The tenacious love of a father for his son.

And so, this Father’s Day, I honor you, Daddy. I picture you on heaven’s porch, praying, loving and waiting for the rest of us to come on Home. Thank you for listening, loving and reminding me that sometimes to laugh is the holiest thing we can do. Holy hilarity, like Joy erupting through faith and trust in God, who cares how our stories end. And loves us from beginning to end.

So, Daddy, heard any new jokes lately? I know your old ones by heart.

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