Sundays with Dad

 

As I watch the U.S. Open Championship rounds at Pebble Beach, Calif. I can’t help but think of Sundays with dad. After a delicious home-cooked meal prepared by my mother, I would find dad on the couch watching golf. He wasn’t a golfer, but he must have found watching golf relaxing after a week of working, sometimes at two jobs. I would sit with him a bit trying to understand his interest in the game but after a short while my restive teenage nature would have me ask for the car keys.

Now, as I watch the U.S. Open I wish dad were sitting next to me. I can only envisage dad in my spirit – he went to be with the Lord a few years ago. What I see in my mind’s eye is dad watching the peaceful almost monotonous game of golf and him listening to the whispering monotone commentators while shaking his knee furiously. He was restless too.

Often on Sundays, dad and mom would have guests over for Sunday dinner after church. Those invited included professors from Trinity Divinity School, missionaries from Africa, Bolivia, New Guinea, Japan, and other countries, as well as, church members. Dad would converse with them about the world they cared about. I sat and listened to learn about the world from his conversations. He would joke and kid his friends and also prayed for those who were hurting. Hospitality was characteristic of both mom and dad, as was giving.

Dad was a strong proponent of the tithe. And he not only gave of his hard-earned money on Sundays but also of his time to support the kingdom of God. He taught classes, preparing for them on Saturdays. He was chairman of the church and at one point became a village trustee and, later, mayor of our town. And he prepared meals during the week.

Dad would cook supper and give my mom, who also worked, some time out of the kitchen. Of those many meals, he prepared cream chip beef with peas on toast (“Nooo! Not again!) and sometimes liver and onions (my favorite). On Saturday mornings dad would prepare pancakes as my mon slept in. He would call us to grab a plate as we watched the Saturday morning fare: Keystone Kops, Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers and the Three Stooges.

Another highlight of my Sunday memories of dad is his eating red-dyed pistachios as he watched golf. His fingers and mouth would be covered with the red dye. Guess what I got dad on Father’s Day.

I couldn’t have asked for a better dad. He could have asked for a better child, though. I was often a nuisance, like the time I stepped in the wet cement he just poured and let to set. And, I was a teenager in the sixties, so mischief was to be had regardless of Scriptural warnings (Proverbs read after evening meals) and dad’s Christ-like example. At times, I would also become an embarrassment to him, a respected church and civic leader. Yet, I received no reproach from my dad. Though his father was a something of a gruff truck driver who would angrily lash out at his kids after several drinks, that was not my father’s way. One of his dad’s Reform Church sayings was “everything done decently and in order.” Disorderly children were to be handled and reproached. Those words and their negative application had become embedded into my dad. But my dad would not use them as a reproach but as a quip to signify, at least in my mind, that he had moved on from his father’s ways. He could handle some disorder. Mine in fact. Dad, as grace personified, waited patiently for me to change my ways.

Perhaps for dad, watching the slow-paced and peaceful game of golf took the edge off of some of my painfully jarring ways. Golf is, after all, a game played “decently and in order”. And perhaps dad shaking his knee as I sat with him on Sundays was his way of dealing with my ups and downs. Grace meted out?

The spirit of my father and his amazing grace sit with me today as I watch the U.S. Open – golf. (And, I did change my ways!)

Dad & mom

 

 

Father’s Way

I would estimate that, over the years, my father took thousands of photos with film cameras.

My father wasn’t in most of these photos.

Most of what a father is and does is not captured in an image…

Father’s Day – June 15th, 2014

G. K. Chesterton once said:

 “We are to regard existence as a raid or great adventure; it is to be judged, therefore, not by what calamities it encounters, but by what flag it follows and what high town it assaults. The most dangerous thing in the world is to be alive; one is always in danger of one’s life. But anyone who shrinks from that is a traitor to the great scheme and experiment of being.”

One year ago, on June 15th, 2013, this year’s Father Day, my dad went to be with the Lord.

 His and my mom’s life verse, found in Romans 8:28, made Chesterton’s challenge a forgone conclusion in my dad’s life:

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

My dad did not shrink from life. Rather, he served his God, his wife of 64 years, his family, his grandchildren and his great-grand children with great zeal. Though not one who could sit through a ‘moment’ my dad kept moving.  He kept taking photos so as to capture the ‘moment’ while thinking ahead about the next ‘moment’, the next high tower to assault. (And, yes, I am the same way.)

My dad lived a life of service.

He served as a village trustee and then later as mayor in a major suburb outside of Chicago. I wrote a post about Memorial Day when my dad was mayor: The Rectitude of Silence.

My dad worked two jobs when funds when needed. With four hungry kids funds were often depleted. Yet, on some Saturdays my dad would take us to Sandy’s for a hamburger, fries and a shake. He would also occasionally take us to the YMCA for swimming. I suspect, though, that he did this so that mom could regain control of her mind. He was a thoughtful husband.

My dad also served the Lord’s church as a Sunday school teacher. Often with theology books, concordances, etc. spread out before him on the dining room table I would see him handwriting his lessons. He believed the Gospel to be the power of God unto salvation. And, as a Moody Bible Institute alumnus (the Alumni President, at one point) he believed the Bible to be God’s Truth.

My father was adamant about the Bible’s literal truth. His understanding, I believe, was born out of a time when liberal theology came to the fore and challenged the Sola Scriptura interpretation. And, he knew from personal experience that Scripture is the power of God unto salvation.

Some would be put off by my dad’s sometimes strident letters to some of his children and grandchildren, letters meant by him to separate the wheat from chaff. As a parent of four, I understood his motivation. I understood his reasons, his heart of love and his desire that all of his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren would come to know the One true God before all else. In true Pauline style he pushed the point home.

I also understood that I needed to research truth for myself and stake my own claim in the Kingdom of God as he did long ago. I thank God for my Christian heritage formed by my father’s faith. He proved Romans 8:28, ergo, once again, proving God to be true to his word.

Beyond being a Sunday School teacher my dad served as church chairman.  He and my mom also served as the mission’s committee chairpersons. It was through their ministry and their gracious hospitality that I met dozens of missionaries from across the globe. I would meet them and hear their stories during our Sunday after-church meals featuring mom’s pot roast.

Wow!  Little wonder that now as an adult I love maps and geography. World maps and the pinpoint missions were posted on the walls of our church ~ more high towers to assault for dad and for mom.

The photo below was taken just about three weeks before my dad left us to be with Him who is the Resurrection and the Life. My dad is in Good Shepherd hands. So, I am at peace. Still, this moment in time, tomorrow, will be hard to gather all those thoughts in. Yet, I have not lost a father. Heaven has gained a saint who needed a well-deserved rest ~ and lots of hugs.

 dad-mom-me 

  I do not fear death because, like dad, I embrace the One who is the Ultimate Ruler and Redeemer of this World.

Unlike my dad, though, I do not believe in a ‘literal’ young earth creation story. Rather, I see Genesis One and Two to be poetic true myths about what God wants us to know about our beginnings.  Beyond this, based on my studies of genetic scientific evidence and quantum physics, I completely accept old earth theistic evolution ~ a Creator God whose spoken Big Bang sparked the machinations of evolution, thereby creating worlds known and unknown. I believe the Holy Spirit breathed into Adam and Eve a soul, giving them moral Absolutes in their spirit’s DNA..

As dad and mom together believed I also believe in Romans 8:28, knowing that God is good …:“There is but one good; that is God. Everything else is good when it looks to Him and bad when it turns from Him.” C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce

Now, to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen. I Timothy 1:17

 

 Aside:

I once called my dad on Father’s Day from Saudi Arabia: Father’s Day 1985

 

THOU hast made me, and shall Thy work decay?
Repair me now, for now mine end doth haste;
I run to death, and Death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday.
I dare not move my dim eyes any way;
Despair behind, and Death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sin in it, which it towards hell doth weigh.
Only Thou art above, and when towards Thee
By Thy leave I can look, I rise again;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one hour myself I can sustain.
Thy grace may wing me to prevent his art
And thou like adamant draw mine iron heart

John Donne, The Holy Sonnets I.

Father’s Day Under Wraps

Sunday morning: My lunch plans with my two youngest, R18 and R14, changed to breakfast plans. My daughter’s new place of employment asked her to work from noon to five.

I am happy for my daughter. She has just graduated from high school and has now landed a job in a matter of days – a job which pays $10.00 an hour in a workplace surrounded by cool knickknacks and fun art objects. It is one of her favorite stores.  R18 is a graphic artist (designed her senior year high school yearbook cover) and she may soon get an internship with a local graphics arts company. She wants to learn the business side of things, she told me. She’s just like her dad.

I made breakfast for my two youngest: pancakes, scrambled eggs, bacon. R14, my youngest son, doesn’t do well in the morning. He’s slow to come around but he did find the orange pop hiding in the fridge. I wanted him to drink the orange juice that I bought for our breakfast but then I conceded, as fathers do when confronted by the magnanimity of Father’s day.

At breakfast, R18 & R14 gave me a $50.00 gift card to Barnes & Noble. This was totally unexpected: my kids get money from me. R18‘s first paycheck must have covered the cost. I was completely wowed by such generosity. I didn’t cry till later, another father’s day concession.

I told my kids that I had been coveting a book at B & N: David McCullough’s The Greater Journey, Americans in Paris. The book was priced at $37.98 less 30%. The reduced price was still too much for me to pay during this Obamic depression so I kept saying No, hoping the price would descend to a pauper’s price. The gift card covered the reduced cost of McCullough’s book plus Mario Livio’s The Golden Ratio and Mario Vargas Llosa’s Death in the Andes. The unexpected gift told me that I was loved.

On Sunday afternoon I purchased these books. The day before, Saturday, I had been at B & N browsing as I always do after a weekend breakfast. I ended up purchasing an inexpensive CD: Joe Cocker: Icon. I brought the CD to the counter to pay for it and the short grey-haired woman behind the counter said that she had just purchased Mad Dogs and Englishmen. I said, Lot of memories there. She said, Yeah that’s why I bought it. Our smiles said the rest.

After B & N I went to a local Mexican restaurant, a new place founded by a chef who had worked with Rick Bayless. The restaurant is only three blocks from my place so I figured margaritas could have their way with me (while I stimulated the economy). I ordered a Mora-rita and Blue Marlin Ceviche. Authentic Mexican food is great. I am not crazy about Tex-Mex.

After finishing another Mora-rita I felt pleasantly pacified so I took my order of De Panza tacos home and situated myself in front of the TV. I had hoped there would be something of value on the tube. As it turned out Life With Father was on TCM and Steven King’s (Rita Hayworth and the) Shawshank Redemption was on another channel.

Feet went up, food went down. I settled into the end of Father’s Day 2011 believing that love and redemption go a long way, from one year to the next.

Dad

Dad,
Masquerading man –
Provider, Decider, Chronicler,
Motivator and Love’s unlikely dance Partner,
A mischievous Mirth-er who’s my mother’s lover
(Confused by Eve but not alone),
A baseball phenom:
Always at bat for me;
Always fielding my bloopers;
Always never keeping score,
A figurine in flannel wearing
Camouflaged feelings in the blind
Savior of children’s happiness with
Strength born of recycled weakness –
Dad,
A Giver given.

© Sally Paradise, 2011, All Rights Reserved

Father’s Way 2010

Father’s Day weekend, 2010:  Friday night I spent with my son Ryan.  My daughter, Rachel, had to work.  She finally landed a job after many applications and some interviews.  Bless her heart, her determination paid off.  She will work mostly weekends at a nearby restaurant.  This weekend was the first one scheduled for her. 

 My son and I went to a local sports place where we had pizza, cold drinks and watched the White Sox on one big screen TV and the World Cup on another.  There is a different dynamic when it’s just him and me.  He’s more relaxed and funny.  Ryan has some new braces so he cuts up all of his food to chew. He shyly smiles when he tells me something he thinks is funny, just barely showing the steel in his mouth.  While we sat and ate Ryan ‘texted’ his friends. They are electronically social, recounting to each other what each one is doing at that exact moment in time. After dinner we picked up the new Jackie Chan movie and went home to watch it.

 My daughter came home from work and filled us in on her night.  She is learning to remember all of the menu items and their ingredients using homemade note cards.  No one told her to do this but she is industrious – like her father.

 Saturday I woke my daughter up early.  She wanted to see her boyfriend before he left on a family trip.  She returned around 2:00 pm, got ready for work and left at 3:15 pm. My son (a new 5’10” teenager) slept in till noon.  We ate left-over pizza for brunch. Ryan went to a friend’s house.  At 4:30 I picked him up and he and I went to a minor league baseball game.

 The Cougars night game started at 6:00 pm but the gates were open at 4:00 pm.  It was a gorgeous summer evening, no rain and not humid, just pleasant.  Our home team lost but it was just fun being there and watching the game and watching the people.  The third base side seats were just past the third base towards the outfield.  We could see everything.

 During the game, Ryan told me that a vendor was hawking “Sno-Cones”.  Ryan said that they were not “Sno-Cones because they, in fact, came in round plastic cups.  He wanted to make sure I knew this.  He’s just like his dad.

 In between the innings there is always some kind of family fun stuff going on on the field:  a diminutive three year old girl running the bases chasing after Ozzie the Cougars eight foot tall mascot; go-kart races for kids.  After 9 scoreless innings for the home team (Rattlers 8 –Cougars 0), the game ended and the Jesse White Tumblers came out on to the field.  They jumped, leaped, twirled mid-air and cart-wheeled between first and third base to the music of “Strike it Up”. Ryan liked this after-game show.  The kids are his age, doing amazing physical feats.  The dazzling fireworks show afterward filled the night sky with glitter and the smell of burning black gun powder.

 At home Rachel was waiting for us. When we arrived she talked about work and ate a basil chicken panini sandwich she had brought home. Ryan talked about the game. We sat and watched Raymond together and then each of us went off to bed at different times.

 Sunday morning I made French toast for the kids.  Rachel started work at 10:30 am.  I hung around with Ryan and then we went to Hobbytown.  We looked at all of the model cars, the different scales of 1:24 & 1:32.  Ryan picked out a cast metal White Lamborghini.  I bought him a red Lamborghini a few weeks ago so now he has a collection.  We drove home and then Ryan hung out with his friends in the afternoon. 

Sunday night:  Rachel came home from work and Ryan came home from his friend’s house.  I bought some Rib-eye steaks and French Fries and I made Steak Au Poivre Frites for supper. While cooking I played a CD of Dean Martin hits and remembered my dad watching Dino on TV many years ago.  When “That’s Amore” came on I began singing; when “Mambo Italiano” played I started dancing.  What can I say? Like father, like …