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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  • Reply Radina Welton June 13, 2024 at 11:28 pm


    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 14, 2024 at 8:52 am

      Well, good morning, dear Radina. Thank you for taking the time to read and add an encouraging word. Knowing some of your story, I’m sure you miss your dad, as well. When you see them, please say hello to the Petrocellis.

  • Reply Linda Moore June 14, 2024 at 11:35 am

    Thank you, “Daddy” for all you did-and continue to do- to gift all of us with your special daughter. Your legacy and love continues as she encourages and loves on us. Well done dad!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 14, 2024 at 5:22 pm

      Aw, thanks Linda. I know he appreciates those words. Me, too. As I watched the PBS Memorial Day Concert and other newscasts that honored the 80th anniversary of D-Day, I thought how young and brave were those men and women. But mostly men, back then. We do a great disservice to men to make it seem weak if they weep. Life’s hard. And we owe much to a bunch of scared kids who did what they had to do, when duty called. And I’m grateful my Daddy did the best he could, all things considered and wrapped in Grace.

  • Reply Dale June 14, 2024 at 11:56 am

    Hi Jan,
    This is the time for an AMEN and not a pithy response. We just returned from a visit in OR with our son and family and hearing “I love you Dad” is all I need to remember from the visit. Dale

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 14, 2024 at 5:24 pm

      And you are so right, my dear brother-friend. Your kids are blessed, as are your grands, to have such a good man to guide and love them.

  • Reply Carole A Scott June 14, 2024 at 3:20 pm

    Love this Jan! Thank God for Daddys and handkerchiefs. Grateful my husband still carries one every day as I offer lean over to him to ask him for it! So sweet to read about your dad and your memories of him. I’m picturing my sweet daddy too who’s been with Jesus for 5 years now. We were blessed to have fathers love us well. Carole.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 14, 2024 at 5:28 pm

      Thanks, dear Carole, for reading and taking the time to respond. My husband carried one, too. And I miss him and that handkerchief. Dads help make us then mark us for good or I’ll. Thankfully, yours and mine left the mark of Jesus on us.

  • Reply Valerie mccoy June 14, 2024 at 3:25 pm

    Thank you Jan… tenderhearted.
    At my father’s funeral, a few years ago, I read this song from Luther Van Dross, who represented my Dad and me….perfectly.

    “Back when I was a child
    Before life removed all the innocence,
    My father would lift me high
    And dance with my mother and me and then spin me around till I fell asleep.
    Then up the stairs he would carry me
    And I knew for sure I was loved.
    If I could get another chance,
    Another walk, another dance with him
    I’d play a song that would never ever end;
    How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again.”

    Bless you, good friend. How blessed we were to have a diamond for a father!

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 14, 2024 at 5:30 pm

      What a beautiful song and reminder of what good Dads do for us and their families. Starting with how they treat our mothers.
      And you are right, we were blessed, dear Valerie.

  • Reply Phil Eaton June 15, 2024 at 1:45 pm

    Just beautiful, Jan. With all that’s swirling around, this lifts me up. I need a little laughter. You are a blessing.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 16, 2024 at 9:06 am

      For sure, laughter is good medicine for body, mind and spirit. And thank you for your encouragement. I love hearing from you, dear Phil. These are tough times but we are tougher than we know. And God is our strength and help in all times. I keep Wendell Berry’s quote where I can see it everyday: “Be JOYFUL though you have considered all the facts.” Joy should come more naturally (SUPER naturally) to one who trusts and follows Jesus. Oh, and by the way, you have a great smile. Like my Daddy used to say to me when I’d scowl, “Smile. It makes people wonder what you’re up to or what you know that they don’t know.” Sending love to you and Sharon.

  • Reply Alyssa Arnold June 16, 2024 at 9:41 pm

    Lovely post, made me cry. Thank you for your beautiful insight.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 17, 2024 at 9:53 am

      Well, dear Alyssa, I cried, too, as I remembered and wrote. It’s good to express gratitude while the people for whom we’re thankful can still hear or read the words. Sometimes we let small stuff get in the way of the more important. It’s why I’ve learned there is wisdom and encouragement hidden in “sitting close.” It’s one of God’s bridges between what was and what is possible through forgiveness, reconciliation, and finding that for which we can be grateful. Love to you and Andrew, two of my “Gordon kids.”

  • Reply Wendy June 17, 2024 at 12:10 pm

    My heart resonated with your memories as I remember my wonderful Dad. How I love to picture him with Jesus “praying, loving and waiting for the rest of us to come on Home.”! Such a good word picture – so encouraging and hope-filled. I’m still waiting for some of my family to come home – it helps to picture my mom and dad cheering them on. <3 (PS reading about you ironing your dad's handkerchiefs reminds me of you telling us you used to iron your sheets. That amazes me! :))

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 17, 2024 at 6:09 pm

      Well, stay amazed. Must be a Scandinavian thing to iron pillowcases and the TOPS of sheets. Don’t tell anyone, but I still do it. “til death do us part.” There are other names for it, according to psychologists. But i makes me feel like I’m in a fancy hotel, to put mg head down on an ironed pillowcase. Like I said, Mama started me on Daddy’s handkerchiefs, then moved me to pillowcases. I hope someday when I have to give an accounting for how I spent time, I won’t lose points for ironing.

  • Reply Maggie Wallem Rowe June 20, 2024 at 5:51 pm

    Jan, thank you for writing about your father. Many of us felt we “knew” your mama, of course, through her books and speaking, so it’s wonderful to have this word portrait of the man you called Daddy. My father was not able to encourage me with words – though he was very voluble with strangers, he was not able to express sentiment to his children – but he lived a life of honesty and integrity, and I’m grateful for him. And for you, your daddy’s gifted, funny daughter.

    • Reply Jan Carlberg June 21, 2024 at 8:33 am

      And that is one of the things I grew to appreciate about him, as he aged and became a bench player in a world that likes stars. He was not only comfortable with the spotlight on my mother, he turned the light towards her. Mama wrote on yellow legal pads, then Daddy typed on his old Underwood typewriter her first book, First We Have Coffee. When it came to reading all those handwritten pages, Daddy just smiled and said, “God gave me the gift of interpretation!”

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