Yesterday was Father's Day. My dad passed away two and a half years ago. He was actually my step-dad, the only father I knew well. I still miss him, especially this time of year.
Father's Day falls at the point in June when the summer in Missouri starts to grow hot and dry. For years I sneaked away for the weekend, carrying little more than a couple of pairs of ratty jeans, old t-shirts, and my fishing pole, to spend time with him silently casting lures and bait out into ponds where fish might or might not show interest in what we had to offer.
We would wake up early, stop by the grocery store to buy chicken livers for the catfish, and make our way to one of several family farm ponds in the area around his hometown in southwest Missouri. Many of the ponds were in fields where cattle grazed. We would drive his truck as far out as possible and trek the rest of the way on foot, carefully passing under electric fences and around the curious glances of bored cows. Words were few. Our ears were tuned to the droning of locusts and grasshoppers and the lonely calls of red-winged blackbirds and quail.
Conversations consisted of "what are you using?" and "have you gotten a bite yet?" My dad was not given to deep conversation. He would never have thought it necessary to talk about the meaning of life, but I never doubted he considered it, and I was always certain that his understanding of it was worked out while standing on the edge of a pond, rhythmically casting his fishing pole. God was there in those moments with him. With no words to put distance between us, we understood each other.
If heaven is a physical place that in any way resembles this earth, my dad is standing on the edge of a pond, silently whispering gratitude for a life filled with fun, family, and friends. The fish aren't in much danger because he's never been that concerned about catching them. He stands there knowing that he lived his life well, loving his family, showing care and concern for others in ways both big and small.
And in some way, I'm there with him, silently content to bask in the warmth of his love and acceptance, knowing that if I never did another thing of worth or value in this world, he would still be proud of me.
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
Re-posting just for the heck of it
This memory has been on my mind for several days now, namely because some friends of mine and I have been talking about a quality of mine some of them find weird...the ability to sit with someone in silence and believe that it is a powerful and moving experience. This post from Father's Day 2005 speaks volumes about why that is the case for me: