Today is Father’s Day, a day when we honour our earthly fathers and shower them with gifts. An annual tradition when we were children would be to give Dad some fishing lures, which he’d take out fishing and immediately lose. So a week or so later, for his birthday, we would give him some more fishing lures. Gift giving was so simple. Since my father is no longer on this earth, the memories I have of him are precious. For that reason the challenge for today in the June Joy Dare is not so much a challenge as a delight.
Give thanks for three things in your dad….
- I am thankful that for my father family was a priority. Even as children we got to spend a lot of time with him, on the bread run for his second job at the bakery, or helping him in the extra jobs he took as a gardener, or even just working alongside him in our own garden. But most precious of all were the family vacations. Four children and a dog in the back of a station wagon, enroute to an adventure. Some years my dad had big plans to get to the Stampede, plans that were never realized because as soon as we stopped at a campsite he really liked, we would just stay put. (Although four kids and a dog in the back of a station wagon might well have been a contributing factor.) While stopped in our location there would be outings to local attractions, the inevitable movie on the days it rained, lazy days spent swimming and lounging in the campsite and every night the campfire. Those were times when bonds were strengthened and memories were built.
- I am grateful that my father instilled a love of tradition. Any car trip wasn’t complete without the candy tin, where on a regular basis my father would say, “Well, how about it” and out would come the tin and once he got his candy everyone else got to choose a candy. If it was a long trip, we could count on the afternoon stop including an ice cream cone. When my parents bought their own place at the lake one of the things that my father loved to do was to take us out in the boat and go and look at the water bombers. So big, so majestic. When they took off for training, or sadly for fire control purposes, the part of the lake where they gathered water and speed would be up the inlet near our place. No matter what was happening, all people stopped what they were doing to watch the bombers take off. It was such an awe-inspiring sight. But the tradition that I treasure most, was the one that began after he and my mother got the spot at the lake, where in the evening, when bed-time was announced, my father would kidnap the grandchildren and take them down to the Lake to look at the moon. None of the rest of us were allowed to come, just Opa and the grandchildren, co-conspirators in the plot to delay bed-time. This tradition meant so much to my daughter that she is talking about finding ways to develop traditions for her own children that they will treasure when they “grow up to be men.”
- I give thanks that my father had a sense of humour that included a love of the absurd. Every night as he was preparing to go to bed, he would dance away singing, “Irene good night, good night Irene, good night Irene I’ll see you in my dreams.” Years later, incapacitated by a stroke and living in a nursing home, he would still grin when as I left him, I’d say, “good night Irene” and he would say back, “good night Irene”. When my nephew spoke of this at the memorial service he said, “and when Opa would go to bed, he’d say good night Irene, even if your name wasn’t Irene.” That brought a chuckle to the congregation, and I had to shake my head at the “culturally deprived” youth. And then again, the absurdity of the telling of the story was so fitting and so appropriate.
God has given us families, in which to grow up and be nurtured. I give him thanks for my parents, whose love taught me so much. I give him thanks for my father, whose gifts fill my memories to overflowing. To all of you who remember a father today, my God touch your grief with joy. To all of you who spend time with your father today, make this day an event to remember. To all of you who are fathers, may God give you strength and joy for the greatest job you will ever take on.
Thanks be to God for the wonderful gift of fathers.