June 12, 2008

Father's Day

American Gothic by Grant Wood

"There was-–the story goes–-a holy man, who sat by the side of the road praying and meditating. As he watched and prayed, the broken of the world passed by: the crippled, the lame, the ragged poor, the sick, the blind. 

In his prayer, with broken heart, he asked God, “How could such a good and loving Creator see such things and do nothing about them?”

There was a long period of silence with no answer. Then, in a soft voice, God replied: “I did do something about them: I made you.”" ~anonymous

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal...And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.” 1 Corinthians 13:1, 13 

A picture says a thousand words, right? Well, now you know all about my childhood. Idaho. Sugar Beets. Lots o' work. Lots o' kids to feed, cows to herd, church to go to, and casseroles to bake for sick folks.

I've witnessed miracles. I've observed people change. I've seen how serving others transforms hopelessness and despair into gratitude. I've watched people turn their lives around through faithful adherence to religious principles. I watched a stubborn man surrender his will to an authority greater than himself.

I’ve experienced the mending of fractured connections. And this is why I believe healing is possible no matter how fragile the reconciliation nor how late the opportunity---if a man has the desire to be a father.

So many of the things I loved about my father were similar characteristics in my husband. What I didn't know and could not have known, was the intractable nature of the narcissist’s resistance: to love, to compassion, to forgiveness, to commitment. A stubborn refusal rejecting human brokenness as being requisite for grace and spiritual wholeness. How tragic it was to watch a partner's heart turn to stone because he could not accept nor forgive imperfection: his, mine, or anyone’s.

Though my relationship with my father had been strained for several years, (we’re two peas in a pod, or so folks say), when I needed him to be there, he was. I call my Dad frequently now, though still not as often as he calls me. He’s just checkin’ in to see how I’m doin’ after the big scare he got when my husband left with another woman. For several months afterward Dad called me everyday. “What’d ya do today, CZ?” he’d ask. And I’d proceed to tell him. I’m sure there were countless times when my Dad was grateful to be hard of hearing.

Now that I’m back on my feet again, I call my 82 soon to be 83-year-old Dad---instead of waiting for him to call me.

“What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“Oh, I took that ornery what’s-her-name to the doctor since she can’t see good enough to drive herself anymore. Then I pulled out a row of pine trees with my backhoe. They might fall over next winter since they was too close to her roof.”

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“I went to my neighbor's house to dig a new septic since his sewer is backed up real bad. Scared me when the dirt caved in but I moved fast enough to dig myself out. I’m not ready to be buried yet.” He laughs.

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“Your mom wanted a place to put her teapots so I glued up a bunch of boards for a cabinet. I think she’s gonna like it.”

“What’d ya do today, Dad?”

“Well, I fixed “Hog’s” chair today. I told Hog he didn’t have to pay but he gave me a five-gallon bucket of honey anyways. There’s nice people in this world, CZ. They ‘preciate what people do for ‘em. It’s nice to be appreciated.”

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“Had to get the yard ready for a wedding reception. People like walking through our gardens. Least that's what they say. Especially when the petunias are blooming and when that Linden tree is blooming, do you know which tree that is? The one on the south-west side of the house? Man, that tree smells good. I think I’ll start another one in my greenhouse this summer.”

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“Got out my lathe and made some walking canes today. You know, walnut is a pretty wood for walking canes. Remember Mrs. So-and-So? She said she can climb her stairs with the cane and she hasn't been on the second floor of her house for a years now.”

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“Fixed a big float for the Fourth of July parade. I’m gonna pull it with my jeep. I had to find some chairs for the older veterans to sit on, though. Brother Turner is so old, he nearly passed out in the heat last year.” (To Dad, old is somewhere around ninety-six. Anything less than that is midlife.)

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"

“I was in charge of the firing detail for the honor guard today. We fired a three-volley salute like always but it sure was cold. He was a good soldier and a good man. Seeing Old Glory made me cry but everyone’s getting used me blubberin’ now. Can't figure out why I never cried when you was a kid. Don’t know what’s gotten into me now.”

"What’d ya do today, Dad?"



P.S. When a Father becomes a Man: Team Hoyt: Dick and Rick Hoyt (an inspirational video on YouTube.)


  1. Waht a beautiful tribute to your father CZ -- and to the human spirit.

    Thank you.


  2. CZ, this is a sacrament.

    May I quote from it and link to it on "Strange Mercy?"

    I would be honored to have the privilege.

  3. B E A U T I F U L

    I never really had a dad. I greatly appreciate affectionate stories about fathers***

    anonymous eyes

  4. "May I quote from it and link to it on "Strange Mercy?""

    Please do, Stormchild! I'd be honored to read your comments...


  5. Thank you, Louise and Anonymous Eyes...

    Sending each of you a fat hug tonight,


  6. Absolutely great. So real. So touching.


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