When I See My Father (Belated, For Father's Day)

I have had this post swimming around in my head for a week.  Father's Day came and went.  Still hadn't written a thing.  Well, here it is...

When I see my father I see him playing catch with me in my front yard as I work on my baseball skills.  I see him working on Pinewood Derby Cars in the basement of our home, ping pong table behind us.   I see him starting every Saturday with a "P. of A." and many of those days involving a hike up Turkey Mountain.  I see him sitting in the living room, classical music on the stereo.  I see him dozing off to the TV at night and everyone telling him it might be time to go to bed.  I see him trying to corral youth in Jr. High Youth group and trying to help entertain the youth in Sr. High Youth Group.  I see him shuttling my sister and I around...all the time.  I see him fixing things around the house (that's where I learned all the swear words I know!).  I see him singing to the Kingston Trio, and Tom Leher, and singing in the choir each and every Sunday.  I always admired his deep  voice and am thankful I sound like him...more or less...and I'm thankful that I, too, share the gift of my voice in church.  I see him refereeing between my sister and I.  He was the calm disciplinarian.  I see him all dressed up for my wedding.  We were much younger then.  I see him holding his grandchildren, taking them to the zoo, reading with them on his lap, falling asleep with them in his arms, cheering at baseball games, and going for long walks...if now just to the park and back.

My father is a 70 year old man now.  And I'm 42.  But as I see him I see all the many stories and events that have helped make me who I am today.  I see love.  I see compassion.  I see honesty.  I see reason.  And I'm thankful for all of this and I hope I do a good job at passing these on to my own children.

I do not look at my dad with rose colored glasses.  I don't block out all of the less than pleasant things...like illness...like cancer...like arguments...and how he can be more than a tad overbearing at times.  Those things are there.  No doubt.  Life is filled with less than pleasant things.  Everybody has less than pleasant things about them.  But when it comes down to it, those don't define how I see my father.

How I see him is different.

I want to love my father as he has loved me and I hope he knows that.  Some years ago, after we moved from Kenai to Girdwood, my fatther and I drove back to Kenai to pick up the last load of books.  It was on that trip that I made a dangerous pass...where my pickup truck had less "pick up" than I thought it did and I ended up being a lot closer to an oncoming car than intended.  Nothing like making a stupid driving move while your dad's in the front seat. While we were traveling, my dad brought up his prostate cancer.  It has since been fought off and only a nagging memory, but then it was still new and scary for us all.  My father knew how much I was loving Alaska...me and my growing family.  And he had a heart to heart with me.  He said, "Jim, if I get sick, I don't want you moving back to Indiana just for me."  He meant well.  He really did.  But so did I.  My response was this, "Dad, I'll do what I need to do."

For the one who has sacrificed so much for me, I would be willing to sacrifice much as well.  I want to show the same love he showed to me.

After all, that's what I see, when I see my father.

Thanks, Dad.