As I sat there, my mind reflected back on the past few days; our kids were all together for the first time in two years as we celebrated the wedding of our youngest. I thought about how blessed I have been as a dad. As I thought about this, three simple images came to mind that in many ways have defined me as a father.
As strange as it may sound, the first image comes from a moment in a grocery store. I went with Lisa as she replenished her fridge. Her list consisted of a few dairy products and fresh fruits and vegetables, but typical of her dad, I kept asking,’ do you need...’, and a few more items went into the cart. At one point she picked up a bottle of grape juice; there’s nothing special about the juice but in that moment, I had thought to myself, if this was Janice and me in the store, I would look at the juice and look at the price and put it back on the shelf and wait until it went on sale. But, for my daughter this is was a small thing I could do to bless her, so into the cart it went. I love doing little things for her / for my kids.
The second image was from a few days ago, when I sat on the edge of our bed and read a note Andrea had written to me; a thank you note for sharing in her wedding, but more than that, a note to her dad. It is a message from my daughter that I will cherish the rest of my life. I thought about that moment when we walked down the aisle last Saturday and then a hundred other moments passed quickly in my mind, moments we had shared together, and I realized again, how blessed I am to be her dad.
The third image that crossed my mind was from earlier this year when I stood at the top level of the TD Gardens in Boston; my son Scott was standing below and behind him I could see the ‘spoked B’ at centre ice. We had arrived early for the game, there were very few other fans around and for just that moment, it felt like just me and my son. That I was able to share in this trip with him brought to me a measure of joy as his dad.
Over the years, Janice and I have given to our kids a selfless, sacrificial love; we have never had a lot, but have always sought to be generous with what we have been given. I think of the trips we made to Myrtle Beach when the kids where younger; dinner at the Dutch Valley Restaurant in Sugar Creek, Ohio, apple fitters at the Dutch Panty when we crossed the state line into Virginia, a round of mini-golf with a ‘two-for-one coupon’ and the early bird special at the Filling Station, an all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. I think of the times I would surprise one of them by picking them up at school and taking them for lunch at Pizza Hut or stopping at the drive-thru at McDonalds with Scott after a road game. I remember selling some of my hockey cards to purchase goalie equipment for him and somehow scraping together the funds to help Lisa take a school trip to Europe. I think of all the flights we have booked to get our kids home, the gifts cards tucked in an ‘I miss you’ note or the many times we have helped with gas or groceries just to make things a bit easier for them. I think about all the sacrifices we have made and wouldn’t change a thing!
As I thought about all this, the words of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount came to mind: If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11) My Heavenly Father is outrageously generous and gracious to me; I am blessed to His child.
I thought about all the ways God has surprised and blessed me over the years; about the selfless, sacrificial love that He has poured into my life. Maybe, just maybe, the heart that I have as father is simply a reflection, an imperfect reflection, of the heart of my Father. I have seen this heart in the fathers and mothers at Valley, so I know you will join in celebrating and giving thanks for the privilege and joy that is ours to be a parent!
Happy Father’s Day to all our dads!