I’ve been thinking about my dad quite a bit lately. I guess it makes sense. Father’s Day was this past month. The anniversary of my dad’s death was this month too. It’s been 13 years, but grief is weird. I feel like I’ve dealt with my dad’s death and life still goes on, but grief still gives me a kick here and there. Lately, it’s been a little more frequent. Probably ’cause I’m a father myself now. Anyway, grief shows up at the strangest times. Always unexpected.
The other day, Kasen (2yrs) put on a sailor hat that my mother-in-law bought for him at Pearl Harbor. He was laughing and giggling and it was a ton of fun, but in one split second he looked at me with this sort of sideways grin – it was small, but still enough for me to recognize my dad in him. I teared up briefly, but didn’t let on how I was feeling until later when the kids were asleep in the car. I was telling Miranda about the experience and cried thinking about how I wish dad could have seen Kasen, and how I wish Kasen could have known his grandpa. Grief gave me a kick that day.
I got another “grief kick” on Father’s Day. I had an interesting conversation with my father-in-law, Mike about my dad’s hard head. I was telling him about how my dad won his first boxing match which was televised. He won by technical knock out ’cause the other guy broke his hand on my dad’s jaw. That’s right. You heard (well read) correctly. My dad was tough. I could just picture him taunting the guy, “Come on. Just hit me.” And when he does, he breaks his hand. That’s a hard head.
There’s another story I heard about the first date he and my mom went on. He was taking her to the movies, but on the way, there was a guy stranded on the side of the road. Dad was trying to impress mom, so he stopped to offer his help. Well. . .he stopped to show her how good of a guy he was and the stranded guy was just gonna benefit from my dad’s flirtatious efforts. Anyway, the guy was drunk and broke a beer bottle over my dad’s head. When dad didn’t flinch or fight back and just stared back at him, the guy ran back and locked himself in his own car so dad couldn’t get him. That’s a hard head.
As I’ve thought about these things and told these stories over the past month or so, I’ve experienced grief. “Grief kicks” aren’t all bad though. They remind you of who you are, of where you’re from. They remind you of the things you treasure and help remind you to reorient your life to the things that matter. Grief is nothing more than a lingering love. I’m so grateful for my dad. Everything I am or will ever be is influenced by him. Truth is. . .Everything my kids will be is influenced by him too – they just don’t know it. They will never know their grandpa. (at least here on earth) But their grandpa is alive in them. And I am grateful.
Prayer: LORD, thank you for the grief you sent me recently. I’m reminded of the incredible love You gave to me through my dad. I remember the way he loved me, the way he played, the way he smiled sideways…I love him. I miss him. But I’m grateful for his influence in my life. For who I am. For who my children are. I’m grateful to You God for him. And I’m grateful to him for helping me see and know You God. LORD, let me be a great dad to my children. May they see You in the way that I live. And may they see You in spite of the way I live too. For I am weak and in need of You. LORD, thank you for letting us experience lingering love in grief.