Five-Minute Friday {fear}

Linking up with Kate, the gracious host of Five-Minute Friday. Stop over and share your voice.

This is about daddy. Because it’s time and I should think of him more often.

An outgoing prankster filled with charm, I imagine daddy swept mama off her feet as they married when she was but 16. He was already an officer in the Salvation Army and had to resign his commission to marry her. My aunt recently told me she’d been ask to talk him out of it but his mind was made up.

When they married, he joined the U.S. Army and served the minimum with them. Mama attended the Salvation Army training college and daddy was reaccepted as an officer. They served together in several appointments, even opening the Army’s work in two cities in Arkansas.

Stories of his childhood would spill out of him when we got together with his siblings or parents. Disagreements would likely happen about the version being told but laughter was the end result.

My love of music and photography were passed down from daddy. He had more musical talent than the rest of us, being very accomplished at the trombone and playing accordion. He could play piano by ear enough to pick out chords when needed.

Daddy moved fast. He coached church ball teams, took church youth groups on outings, picked up donations, opened thrift stores to help support the local work and handled business of the local units he directed. He preached on Sunday, sometimes also leading the songs as he played the accordion.

He let us listen to the radio of our choice at breakfast and in the car. He whistled. Often.

I scared him to death as I got older. I should have stayed with mom. He didn’t know how to raise a teenage girl and did it out of fear. Strict curfews and questions made me feel guilty of things not done. Dances weren’t allowed and being late 5 minutes once resulted in a scene I’ll never forget.

I learned early daddy wasn’t perfect. I never doubted he loved me. Never.

Performing my brother’s wedding ceremony

Well into his 50’s he called one day to ask my forgiveness. He was tearful. I was uncomfortable. I’m not sure what, specifically, he wanted forgiveness for. I don’t think I handled it well. He knew I loved him. I’m sure of it.

His last few years were sad. Poor health from diabetes brought an early retirement and he could never handle that mentally. He was depressed, trapped physically. He died at 63. It was unexpected even though he’d had problems. There was a relief of sorts. A relief knowing all of his sorrow was gone.

I marvel at how much my brother seems to know about him that I don’t. Last week Paul talked about daddy liking baseball. A sport I never remember him watching. I’ve already forgotten the team Paul said he liked. Boys and their dads. It’s different. Mama was right. Paul needed to live with dad after their divorce. Mama was mostly right. Daddy told me that. He told me he couldn’t handle that she was so often right. Big for him to admit to that. Sad he couldn’t live with it. Fear had its grip.

Father’s Day. Not the same attention as Mother’s Day. There won’t be as many cards sold or phone calls made. I was blessed. My parents weren’t good at marriage but they could have written a book on how to behave after divorce. For that, I’m thankful. For his laughter, his loving me as best he could, him teaching me to drive, him loving Henry and him loving God. All of that and more I’m grateful to my heavenly Father.

Full disclosure: This was originally written three years ago but never published. It obviously took over 5 minutes to write but less than that to edit today. It fit today’s word prompt, fear, and it fits our recognition of Father’s Day this weekend. Thank you for your kind grace.

8 Comments

  1. This one is as tough for me to read as it was for you to share-no doubt. I was just in the store last Sunday picking up a card for my dad and I couldn’t find one with the words that reflected our relationship. He was simply never there. He came around twice a year and tried to do the things that dad’s do, but the relationship was not there. So I just gave him my smug teen responses and went on with life.

    Now, as an adult, he is out of the army and lives a little closer. I don’t see him a whole lot more often and I watch him still struggle to be dad and now grandpa. It’s like he is punishing himself for lost years and inability to connect. He is not a believer, so that does not help.

    Your dad reminds me so much of my husband. He doesn’t always get it right (neither do I) but he loves our kids so deeply. He would do anything for them just as I know your dad loves you deeply and would do anything for you. Fear is such a powerful driver in parenting. Thank you for drawing the connection today and your courage to share.

    June 19, 2015
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Samantha, your words made me tear up. Sometimes I wonder why I make these things public but then I read your words and that’s why. We are not alone and God is gracious to give us flesh and blood people (who we may never see face to face) to remind us He is with us through others. It took me a while to see how much fear played a part in my own parenting. How could it not, the example was firmly set. BUT…there was also trust in our kids. We learn and keep learning. I know you are. Thanking God for your husband and his love for his family. May we all cling to God’s perfect love knowing there is no fear in His love. Thank you so much for your sweet words. You have lifted my heart today.

      June 19, 2015
      Reply
  2. Annie Rim said:

    Thank you for sharing this tribute to your father, Debby. I am glad you remember such good things about him, even when there was pain. And, I think it is so telling of how parents behave after a divorce. (I know I sat through many uncomfortable parent-teacher conferences with parents who couldn’t do it gracefully.) Sometimes that’s an amazing example in itself.

    June 19, 2015
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      When our kids were little, we even had a couple of vacations where both of my parents met up with us with their respective families. Amazing, when I consider all they did to put us first We get to choose what to keep as our focus and while the scars are still there, there is more to for which to give thanks. Thanks for your kind words, Annie.

      June 19, 2015
      Reply
  3. Anita Ojeda said:

    Thank you for your beautiful and honest tribute to your dad. There’s something so important to a girl about knowing that her father loves her. I know my dad loves me, but we’ve had our problems. The older I get, the more God has softened my heart towards my earthly father and the better we get along.

    June 19, 2015
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      Age educates all of us Anita, as does having children of our own 😉 Thanks for your supportive words and may God continue to soften our hearts making them tender for his grace.

      June 20, 2015
      Reply
  4. Sheila said:

    Debby, I’ve had a fear-filled year that I’ve worked through…so I understand, at least at an intellectual level, that relationships are often filled with fear, and events that make us fearful, even when there’s also great love. Blessings to you as you sort your feelings and look back at your father’s life with love and understanding. My dad is gone too, died in 2008 . Father’s day feels so different without him to call and share with.
    ~Sheila

    June 20, 2015
    Reply
    • Debby said:

      I’ve breathed a few prayers for you Sheila, know God knows your need. My father-in-law passed in 2007 and it was very odd that first year not having a parent to get a card for. I’m most thankful for God giving me a husband not trapped by fear who is a wonderful dad and puts up with me! Thanks for your words of understanding.

      June 20, 2015
      Reply

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