My dad is one of the strongest men I've ever known. As a young child I remember following him around like a shadow. He hunted and fished and I loved to "help" him dress dove ("peel birds" ) and was fascinated with touching fish. I thought the eyes were especially cool. (ick!) As I got older, he taught me how to do minor repairs on the car and the house.
He and I also share a love for woodworking. We made countless things together. I still have some of the first pieces he made. I developed that talent and for years I worked on dollhouses, both from kits and from "scratch". Each time I made a cut or painted a wall, I thought of Dad.
As a teenager, I struggled with independence, finding my place in the world and succeeded in driving my parents crazy. I wasn't a lot better as a young adult, but we made it through. Dad has always been protective of his girls, but the older I get the more I realize it's because of his love for us.
When I got married and moved away from family, I was grateful for all I learned from my parents. And as a mom, I realize how hard it is to let go. As your children grow, you have to let them learn to crawl, walk, and climb. And it never stops. You want to keep them from being hurt, from making mistakes. But that wouldn't teach them anything. By our mistakes, we learn and grow.
Now my dad is facing some serious health problems. And I want him to know how much I love and respect him. A part of that love involves understanding his pain and subsequent choices he is struggling with. The little girl in me wants to tell him to keep fighting and NEVER give up. But the adult daughter knows when my dad talks about the pain he feels and how his quality of life is suffering, that I cannot ask him to do anything for me. I love my dad enough to respect his decisions, whatever they may be. And I cherish him for the man he was then and the man he is now. Whatever his decision, it will be one he has thought about, prayed about.
I find wanting to help but knowing I can't. As he once did with me, I have to let go. I have to trust in my dad's ability to decide what he needs. I have to trust in God to lead him in his decisions. I pray for him daily, several times a day.
I owe my dad a thank you. A thank you for everything he has done and continues to do. He has such a strength of character, such a love of life. He taught me so much as I grew up. He continues to do so. I understand those life-lessons he taught me. I want to teach my boys those lessons. I only hope I can do half as well as he has and still does.
We may not live close to each other, but he IS here with me. I carry him in my heart, always.
(Copyright 2010, Linda Rosendale)