My dad died unexpectedly back in June. For the past few years he had been struggling with lots of health issues, but never had any one firmly diagnosed. He had continued to be more and more absent from our lives, and for the girl (me) who only gets home to see everyone a mere 36 hours or so a month, that absence was deafening.
Finally, back in April during one of our visits, Dad had said to me, "The next time you come, be sure to bring my sunshine." His "sunshine" was Evie. He has sung it to her since the day she was born. I looked at him, with my mouth hanging open..."Dad...she's right there." "No," he replied, "That's not my sunshine, she doesn't have the time of day for me." I'll admit, it was one of the first times that I had ever seen Evie so "unresponsive" to my dad. He spent most of his time in the basement of the house. That was where he had his office, his golf items...it was, for lack of a better word, his own Bedroom. Where do you go when you're not feeling well? Your bedroom. So, Dad would often be in his Bedroom for most of our visits the past few years. When Dad said this, I admit, I felt a little bit of anger boiling inside me. Dad and I were ALWAYS very similar, and we would call a spade a spade. Thankfully, he knew this about me.
"Dad, you spend about 30 minutes a month with us when we come up here. How do you expect to have a relationship with an 8 year old that way?"
Ouch. I saw it. I saw what that wound did to my father. We had been eating, and he pushed his plate aside in silence. My heart was pounding in my chest. The tears were aching at my eyes. I did NOT want to hurt my dad! He was my guardian, my warrior, my biggest bear hug EVER! And what I said had hurt him, but what I said was the truth. And he knew it.
"Thanks alot..." he said quietly. "I'm sorry, Dad..." I said, "But it is the truth..." Oooo...had I just poured the lemon juice on top of the wound? Yes...I had.
We sat primarily in silence. I tried a few attempts at conversation. But that empty pit of fire in my stomach was rolling with lava and spitting flames of fear that reached my brain and said, "What did you just do???"
In May we made our monthly visit to MN. The weekend always flies by because we get in at about 11 o'clock on Friday night, sleep, have Saturday to do our playing and have our fun, and then leave either after breakfast or lunch on Sunday. That's why I say it boils down to about 36 hours a month. My dad was THERE. I mean, he was present and accounted for. Not just for meals, but he even found a comfortable chair that he could manage some extra time in. He watched us playing our dice games. He watched DVD's with us. We had conversations that we hadn't carried on in months.
In June, it was even better! Oh my goodness! And Evie got us all together for a picture. The last picture that we have of my dad. All of us in the living room. Evie was a complete ham that trip too. She was commanding that Grandpa "play guitar". I just remember his goofy smile as he sat in the green chair strumming an air guitar. *click* A final image of my dad. That next day, as we got ready to leave, storms were coming through the Twin Cities and I pulled up radar on my phone. Dad was sitting in the chair, he had been for almost 2 hours, waiting for us to get our things together for our departure. He was holding my phone and watching the radar. It may seem like nothing to others, but it is now a miracle to me. He wasn't just coming up stairs to kiss us goodbye. He was present, very present, and very much a part of that day. My phone would time out and lock up on him and he'd call me over to open it back up again so he could watch the radar. *click*. Snapshot. I love you, Dad. We watched those storms come rolling in on my phone together, and I had no clue what storm was brewing ahead. Six days later, Dad was dead.
Why am I telling you all this? Because Proverbs 27:6 says "Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses." Hmmm...then the Bible directs us to Matthew 26:49 "Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, 'Greetings, Rabbi!' and kissed him." Judas gave Jesus a kiss as a sign to the Roman officers that "this is Your Guy...take Him away, and show me the money."
Yes, I hurt my dad. But my hurting him was out of love for him. And, had I not hurt him that day...had I shied away from the truth~which was hurting me and Evie and Jeff...We would never have had May or June. We would never have had Grandpa on the air guitar. I never would have had those moments of daughter helping father with her phone so he could sit and ponder whether we'd be safe on our trip home. The wound I gave my father that day hurt him, but he was a strong man who loved his family and suddenly he saw what his actions were doing to the relationships he had as father, father-in-law, and grandfather.