Sitting in his office, surrounded by his books, it struck me: there were no new titles. Yet another reminder (as if I needed it) of his felt absence.
That was weeks ago and today is Father’s Day and the missing him remains palpable.
How do you measure the impact of life? How do you determine what factors–both positive and negative–shape who you are? I find it difficult, nearly impossible, to put into words the effect of my dad’s life on my own. Not only did we share DNA, he (and my mom) were the very foundation of who I am. His unconditional love, his curiosity, his passion for knowledge and learning, his authentic faith, his reflective/analytical mind, all impacted how I think and process and evaluate and see life. He provided the lens through which I viewed the world. Even as I grew into an independent adult, I know my very core was molded by him.
I loved my dad. But he wasn’t perfect. Our home wasn’t perfect. We had hurts and scars like any other. But thank God, in His mercy and grace, He gave us, as a family, the strength to forgive each other and love each other despite the hurts. Thank God in the last six months of Dad’s life, we were able to move beyond the self-indulgence of hurt feelings and live at a basic level of love and understanding and grace with each other. I’ve often wondered, since his death, why we (meaning all of us humans) don’t continue to live like that? Why do we hold onto hurts or misunderstandings when we could offer kindness and grace?
I’m incredibly thankful for the father, husband, friend, brother, leader, teacher, doctor, and man he was. I’m thankful for shared life with him. I’m thankful for his presence, so much so, that his absence is that much harder to endure. I’m thankful for the fact that my dad valued every single person he met. Every. Single. One. It didn’t matter the age, gender, color, economics, politics, number of piercings or tattoos, dress, nationality or religion. He saw people through God’s eyes. People knew Love in my dad’s presence. I think of Psalm 16 that says “In your presence is fullness of joy”. As he aged and grew ever closer to Jesus, dad not only experienced that fullness of joy, but passed it on to each person he encountered. That became increasingly evident as he neared death. In the last few weeks of his life, no one came into mom and dad’s home without leaving with dad’s blessing and prayer over them. Some received it as a gift, others perhaps indulged a dying man. Regardless, my dad valued them and told them so. My dad left behind a devoted wife, three doting daughters, three grateful sons-in-law, adoring grandchildren and a life well lived.
A life well lived.