Ronald, from the minute the first pregnancy test was positive – you embraced fatherhood wholeheartedly. After waiting 34 years to become a parent, you relished every second of the experience. You could change a diaper like a pro, extract man-sized burps from small infants, and sooth them to sleep with your lullabies.
As our little ones grew, you told them stories of your childhood, planted vegetable gardens together, and shared your love of fishing – while patiently untangling miles of line and retrieving countless snagged lures.
You knew that your most important job was to train them in the ways of God. You taught them right from wrong and corrected them in love. I think spanking them was harder on you then the kids! Bedtime stories were from the Children’s Bible, and then you got down on your knees alongside them and taught them by example that prayer was talking to a Living God. You, also, taught them what it means to truly worship through music. (And they have followed in your footsteps!)
As they grew, you had trouble letting go – driver’s licenses, dates, and college were milestones that tugged on your heartstrings. Later, you had a lump in your throat and tears in your eyes as you officiated at their wedding ceremonies.
Grandbabies were the icing on your Fatherhood Cake. You have delighted in each one. Jude was born to be your fishing buddy and Zara your princess to spoil. When Cruz was adopted, you bonded instantly because you finally had a grandchild with your “pikey” black hair. Little blond Ever became your Snow Gopher – a name she MIGHT allow until adolescence. Ruby entered the world and became your “Sunshine, my only sunshine,” and she would soon learn to sing the song along with you. One look at tiny Quin and you finally had your “Sha la la la la la la la la la la la la brown-eyed-girl.” Recently, to add to your overflowing cup, baby Dean was born and you were the first one to make him laugh. Seven little lives (so far) – the next generation.
During this recent difficult season of your life – while you have quietly endured pain and suffering, surgeries and medications, your children showed up to sit beside your hospital beds or next to the couch. They have shown their love and devotion in so many ways. The children that you shared stories with, kept warm, fed, loved, and sang to– have showed up to do the same for you. The grandchildren have constantly piled on top of the couch to keep you company. This wasn’t done out of obligation, but because of the love and the respect that they have for you.
Our children and grandchildren are blessed to have a father and grandfather like you – a man of character and integrity. You are a rare treasure indeed. Happy Fathers’ Day!
Many times over the years, I have been around sick people. I owe them an apology – and unfortunately, many of them are not here to receive it. You’re probably wondering, “What could she have done now?” Well, let me tell you. When visiting at the hospital, their homes, or just running into them, I commented on their appearance; “Wow, you look great!” “I love your hair (a wig)!” or “I’m surprised to see you looking so good!” Everyone loves compliments, right?
I think back to three specific visits; a woman who had recently had part of her intestines removed, a friend who was dying from cancer, and a man who had suffered a stroke. They could and probably should have yelled at me; “I am suffering,” “I’m dying– who cares about my hair!” or “Are you blind, my left side is paralyzed and I may never walk again.” Yes, they did look good – but I wish instead of complimenting them, I should have touched their arms and said, “I’m so happy to see you and I’m so sorry you’re sick.”
I am amazed at the grace I was shown. Sick people seem to be given an extra measure of graciousness or perhaps it is the pain mediation.
My husband has been sick for a long time. He has had numerous surgeries. He is not well. BUT…HE LOOKS MARVELOUS! When we see anyone we know, they compliment him and tell him how healthy he looks. I want to carry x-rays in my purse that show the screws inserted in his spine that are causing him so much pain.I want to enlarge the picture the hand surgeon took of the tumor compressing the Median Nerve in his wrist. I want to read the long prescription list that I am in charge of dispensing.
I asked Ron, “Does it bother you that everyone compliments you?” “Why?” he asked. “Because,” I insisted, “it’s as if they are dismissing how sick you are.” He lovingly replied, “Honey, they were just being nice.” And they were.
I have learned a lesson. I now know the difference between sympathy and empathy. When I visited a sick person in the past, I had sympathy for them and was truly sorry they were sick. Now, I can empathize because I have seen sick close up and it’s not pretty. From observation, I can tell you that pain wears you out, taking medications is tedious, and being constantly ill is the pits.
When my newest grandson was born, I got to keep the two big sisters while their mommy was in the hospital. My husband, the usual cook in the family is sick, so I was in charge of dinner. Ruby said, “Grandma, I’m hungry.”“Okay,” I replied, “Let’s go see what we can scrounge up.” As I took her little hand and walked to the kitchen, she asked, “Do you use recipes?” “No, but we can find something to eat,” I assured her. After a moment’s hesitation, her three-year-old hazel eyes got as big as saucers, she looked at me very seriously and said, “Maybe I better just put peanut butter on graham crackers.” Sadly, even a small child knows better than to trust me in the kitchen.