MICHELE HUEY: Dad's memory remains
Special-Tea: Revelation 21:1–22:5
The Lord your God is with you ... He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing. — Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
I miss you. Indeed, there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. Who would have imagined your little girl to be the age you were when you slipped from this life into the next?
I looked for you, you know, the night you died.
I expected to come home from the hospital and find something amiss — a radio or light mysteriously turned on — to tell me your spirit had come to say one last goodbye. But no.
Not until the morning of your funeral, my 20th birthday. Even before I opened my eyes, I felt it — a presence in me and around me — of ultimate peace, love and joy. A velvet-like presence so real I felt I could reach out and touch it. That presence stayed with me all that day. I still get goose bumps when think about it.
I’ve read about heaven — about people who have died, went there, then returned. I’m reading a book now, “I Believe in Heaven: Real Stories from the Bible, History, and Today” by Cecil Murphy and Twila Belk, that reminds me of that time — the scenarios perfectly describe the presence I was gifted with to see me through your funeral.
A birthday present I’ll never forget. I remember so much about you — your thinning salt-and-pepper hair that stuck up in the morning as you mused (or snoozed?) over your coffee. I called you “Scrappy,” after the cartoon character by that name. To this day I don’t know why. Scrappy had more hair than you! You used to tell me that when you were young, you had wavy, blond hair, and now it was waving you goodbye.
Like a kaleidoscope, scenes with you play in my mind — spending time in your woodshop, straddling one of your sawhorses, inhaling the fragrance of freshly cut lumber. The gleaming red and white tricycle waiting for me on the sidewalk, sparkling in the morning sun, its streamers billowing in the breeze. And I thought Mom had said no.
Then there was the arrow I shot through the garage window. You just chuckled, covered up the hole with plywood and cautioned me to be more careful.
Then those tumultuous teen years. The night you went out in your pajamas to look for me when I’d walked a friend home after a church bazaar and neglected to call you. Those were the days before cellphones, and she lived on the other side of town. By the time I climbed the front porch steps, you were so angry with me, you grounded me for a month. I understand your panic now, Dad. But between the two of us? I was glad you grounded me. I’d agreed to go out with someone I really didn’t want to go out with, and the grounding gave me a good excuse to bow out without hurting the guy’s feelings.
More memories surface than I have room for here. But the common denominator, Dad, was your love for me. I never doubted it for an instant, even when you told this 13-year-old I’d wear bobby socks until I was 16.
I love you, Daddy. Happy Father’s Day in Heaven.
Your baby girl all grown up,