Saturday, January 3, 2015

New Year's 2015 Recap #2: Frail and Gentle, My Dad

My Dad.

I don't even know where to start.

My Dad grew up the son of an Air Force Colonel. He was taught to love our country, and to respect the flag...and those who served under it's banner.

He traveled the world...first, as a son...and then later as a member of the United States Air Force himself. And everywhere he could take us, the family, he did...and that's how we got to see the world as well.

From my earliest memory, my Dad was tall and proud. He wore his Air Force uniform every day to work, and he stood erect and confident.

He was always kind of quiet...he still is. He is the nicest, most gentle person I have ever known. He could do a few things around the house, but...bless his heart...he couldn't fix a THING. He just wasn't taught those skills by his own dad. Maybe his Dad didn't know how, either.

I remember when my Mom threw a surprise 50th birthday party for him. All 4 of us kids, our spouses who could make it, all of our children...we went to Tulsa and didn't let him know we were coming. To get him to the place where the party was, my Mom had to call and tell him she'd had a flat...and to please come pick her up. He walked in to the party holding a hammer and a flashlight.


Bless it.

But while he's not wise to the things of the world, he is wise in many other ways. He is kind beyond all belief. He believes the best in everyone. And he prays for me...and my siblings, and our families...every day.

There's something so sweet and precious...and comforting...about knowing someone is praying for you Ya know?

When we went to visit my Dad in Tulsa at the end of November, he seemed to get around fairly well...for what he's dealing with. My Dad has Parkinson's, and he is all stooped over. He moves slowly, shuffling his feet. He is scared to death of falling, so he looks down at the ground unless he's in a sitting position.

My Dad at my sister's house was completely different. He seemed antsy...uneasy. He couldn't get comfortable. He was cold all the time. He seemed unsteady and generally out-of-sorts. He wanted Clara with him at all times, and was unsure of himself when she wasn't around.

I could sense his frustration. This was something he talked of of his worst nightmares: being unable to care for himself completely, or losing his independence. His own father (the Air Force Colonel), at the end of his life, had Alzheimer's. He went from a highly decorated, highly intelligent, author of two books (on MEMORY of all things), to not knowing how to put on his clothes or brush his teeth.

My Dad is 78 years old. His mind is still sharp, and we had some good conversations with him while we were there. He has a quick wit and a great sense of humor. He prayed over our entire family a couple of times.

I could listen to him pray...all day long.

To see my Dad wouldn't know the life he's lived or the impact his life has had on our family...on others. In fact, you might not even give him a second glance...just another old, stooped-over man...shuffling along...looking down. Maybe he's blocking the aisle as you try to quickly pass by. Maybe he's got a line behind him at the fast food counter, because he can't hear what the cashier is saying. Or maybe he can't get his fingers to cooperate, as he tries to count out the exact change for his order. He doesn't use a credit or debit card. No ma'am. It's cash only for this old-school guy.

But he's so much more than his physical appearance.

Aren't we all?

He was a military officer. He was a beloved son. He was a devoted husband. He was a business man. He was a widower. He is a Veteran. He is a Christian. He is the Director of his Sunday School department. He is a friend. He is a leader. He is a servant. He is a husband. He is a father. He is a grandfather. He is my Dad.

My Dad has taught me many lessons in life, but most of them did not come from the words he spoke. I have learned mostly by watching him...listening to how he talks, watching what he does, where he spends his money, how he cares for others. I am inspired by his unwavering faith in God. Even when he had his heart attack, he was confident in his salvation and God's plan for his life to say: "if this is it, I'm okay with it...I'm going to Heaven to be with Jesus and your mom."

And to say of his Parkinson's diagnosis: "God has been good to me all of my life...I have no reason to believe He'll stop now."

God, please give him strength for all of his days.

"Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away." Psalm 90:10


  1. I love this! I will remember to pray for your dad! I just got back from visiting my parents for a week. My 93 year old father is a veteran of the Battle of the Bulge and a Bronze Star recipient. He and my mom (16 years younger) live in a sweet, sleepy South Georgia town and people are generally very respectful, but Daddy has been battling a bit of depression/anxiety lately. As I see his body shrivel around him I want to shout to people all over town "Do you have any idea what a HERO this man is????" I share your prayer that God give him strength for all of his days.

    1. A-to-the-MEN on what you said. I watched my kids all be so kind and patient to my Dad, and I reminded all of them that he wasn't always this way. I talked about his military career...about how much he loved his family and his country and God. I told them what a great husband and father he was. I told them that he has traveled all over the world, and has a knowledge of history and people and places that you would not believe. He might not be able to get it out right at first, but if you're patient with him, he will talk and you can lean in and learn. He is kind and gentle, and he has many friends. I told them that he has a rich prayer life, and that he is the godliest man I know. All this and a million things more describe my Dad...and now he needs help tying his shoes. And buttoning his shirt. And walking.

      But he's so much more than that. And so is your dad.

      We clogged up the line everywhere we walked, because my Dad shuffles slowly, and one of us holds on to him. I kept apologizing to everyone, and everyone was really nice and kind.

      I just wanted to remind my kids...and myself...that everyone has a story. These people that we meet each day? They weren't always this way. Something...circumstances, illness, accidents, choices, TIME...made them into what they are now. But they are so much more. They've hopefully had a family of some-sort along the way. They've influenced people, for good or bad, along the way. They've hopefully experienced love, but they may have experienced hate, disdain...even abuse.

      Everyone has a story. Thank you so much for your comments. They mean so much to me. And I appreciate your Dad's service to our country. We need more heroes like him!

  2. I'll surely remember to include your Dad in my prayers. Oh, what other people would give to have a father such as yours--one who might not be equipped to fix things, but still exerts more than enough effort to help others nonetheless. Such a great man that's easy to hold in high regard. May blessings rain down upon you, your Dad, and your entire family. Cheers!

    Victoria Pierce @ Fight 4 Vets