I never know what each new holiday or birthday or special event will look like until it actually arrives. Sometimes I do alright. Sometimes it’s worse leading up to the day than the actual day. And, sometimes it’s worse than can be imagined on the actual day. I truly never know what my or my children’s emotions will do. Today, I sit here writing in the quiet. My children are still sleeping after an evening of tears and feeling down about Father’s Day approaching and their daddy isn’t here to celebrate with. It’s hard on a momma’s heart to watch it all unfold, all the while my heart is breaking too. This wasn’t the plan. This wasn’t our dream. Enter plan b…
Two days ago I was walking through a store just passing the time. I really had no real reason to be there, I just was. As I was deep in my own thoughts walking up one aisle and down another, my ears picked up the sound of giggling children. I stopped and smiled but kept slowly walking. Then I heard a daddy dreaming aloud with his children of all the fun things they were planning for this special day coming up. I stopped. And I listened. “Daddy, should we get these squirt guns too??”, the children shouted. “Yes! And, let’s also grab these water balloons!”, he replied. “This is going to be sooooo much fun, daddy!!!!”, the children all agreed. “I know…I can’t wait!!”, said the daddy. They were laughing and talking of how fun this upcoming day would be! I smiled and then wanted to cry. That was my family too at one time.
Last year at this time, Clint was in the hospital for the same reason he needed surgery just 7 months ago. The kids all came to visit him after church, bearing presents and cards and laughter and love. I had no idea that would be our last Father’s day with him. Now, here we sit.
When I met him 25, almost 26 years ago, he had all the qualities of what I’d imagined I wanted the father of my “someday” children to have. He far exceeded my hopes for them! He was that dad that tickled them and wrestled with them. Held them when they cried but tried to make them laugh so they wouldn’t be sad anymore. He would buy them special treats or the new kid’s movie that had come out, when they were sick. He worked hard to get them the things they needed and many things they wanted. He prayed for them…earnestly! He loved me WELL!!! He modeled loving others WELL!!! He backed me up and would never let them disrespect me. He would come home from work periodically and shout, “Hey, I found a used car we are going to go look at (5 hours away). Everyone, pack your bags for a mini vacation! We are leaving in 30 min!!!”. He loved Sunday drives to nowhere and at the end, almost always there was ice cream 🙂 He always wore a smile and had a great, big, contagious laugh! Our children would try to mimic his laugh when they were little! It was funny hearing them try! He loved to see if he could make us laugh while eating or drinking! Spewing whatever was in your mouth was his symbol of success and if it came out your nose, that was double success!!!
I miss him. We miss him. Father’s day will never be the same again. He was the best father I’d ever witnessed. My heart hurts for my children. I know what they’ve lost. But, I’m eternally thankful for what I KNOW they had!! And, I’m so thankful I got to witness that in action! I got to see our children’s faces light up when their daddy walked back through the door each day! To run to him with hugs! I miss hearing him walk through the door of the house yelling, “Hey, hey, hey!” Or, “I’m home for 5 minutes before I have to head back out again. Anyone who wants to go with me to show a house, be ready in 5 minutes!” There was never a dull moment with him around.
One time, when our two oldest girls were still pretty little, Clint got the notion to hang a tree swing for them. That was alright enough, except the tree he chose to hang it on was really tall! I’m guessing it was at least 30′ up to the nearest branch and to make matters worse, the branch he decided to shimmy out on was probably around 6′ out! I was terrified he would fall to his death…but, as usual, he defied death. I had honestly gotten to a place where he seemed invincible. But, death is no respecter of persons…it comes at some point or another to all.
I’m trying very hard to be fun, spontaneous, and joyful for my kids…but, grief really wears a person out. Last night at 9pm, I really, really almost packed the kids up to head for the beach for an impromptu trip. But, grief doesn’t have us all on the same page and some just weren’t ready. That’s okay. I know we’ll find our new normal…it just takes time.
So, to all the dads out there, take time today to think about what you want your legacy to look like. What will your children remember about you when you’re gone? What will stand out to them? It’s NEVER too late to start being the dad you always dreamed you could be!!! Children are forgiving…they just want you to be present with them! And, you’ll never regret it! I promise!
Happy Father’s Day in Heaven, Love. You are loved. You are missed. You are remembered…ALWAYS!!! Hugs have been sent your way!