Happy Birthday

May 18, 2013

Dear Daddy,

Happy Birthday. I sure do love and miss you. Right now I’m sitting on an empty beach, on a cloudy morning viewing yellow morning glories with the backdrop of rough waves crashing on the shore. It amazes me how such a hostile sea can be so calming and peaceful. You would appreciate its beauty. I rode your old purple Shwin bike out here to have a few minutes alone. Nathan fixed the inner tube and aired it up for me, so it is ready for more adventures; although it looks a little worse for the wear. I still remember you riding it all the way to church one Wednesday evening. It must have been at least 15 years ago. So many people stopped and asked if they could give you a ride, but your determined, adventurous spirit (or maybe it was just a stubborn streak) made you refuse the rides.

I believe I have a little of that spunk in me. I try to keep it hidden most of the time, but Nathan knows our secret. There are so many things that I have that came from you -a little spunk, a love for bluegrass and acoustic music, an appreciation for the depth and wonder of books. There are also things about you that I wish would develop: an amazing measure of faith, the ability to be a best friend and to give love to everyone that you meet, to minister through pain and suffering, but most of all your drive to never, ever, give up.

You kept going even after your last ounce of strength was gone. I want that mantle, Dad. I don’t want to quit. Like you, I want my last breath (even if it’s in pain) to be spent loving my family and friends. Daddy, I’ve never seen any one so physically weak that showed such mighty strength of spirit. I’m still learning from you.

You would be so proud of Mom. She has that same spirit. Y’all must have been made of out a different type of dirt. I think it must be all used up now. Mom just keeps on going. She has the best attitude. She sure does miss you, but she doesn’t let that stop her from loving people. Your ministry is still going strong. She is encouraging so many with her joy and happiness with her path in life.

We are selling our house. I wish you were here to talk about it all with us. There are so many decisions to make. I sure miss your advice and approval. I know you would be so proud of Nathan. You’ve always loved him. He’s taking such good care of me and Claira.

Claira still knows you. She loves to watch you sing from the campmeeting recordings, and she pointed to your picture when I was at Mom’s house and said, “that Paw Paw” with a big smile. The songs that you sang to her, when I was still carrying her, when she was a fussy infant in her swing, and even in the hospital when you were so weak you would barely talk, are so precious, and I’m so glad that I have some of them recorded. I wish she would be able to know you as she grows, but I am so thankful that you got to meet and love her. I was thinking the other night of when she was born, and how the night turned out so different than we had planned. You and Mom, Nathan, Bobby and Donna were there when I woke up to hear the news that she would be my only precious baby. My support team. My strength. Thank you for being there for me so many times.

Daddy, we all miss your prayers for us. It is so evident that they and your godly advice is gone. They were a solid anchor that kept us grounded. Now we are adjusting and frequently flying about with every wind. But I guess it’s time that we stand up. No longer can we just depend on you to intercede to the Lord for us. We must do it ourselves. I’m ready. Your example has blazed the trail. My wonderful earthly father is gone, but I have a Heavenly Father that cares for me even more, just like He did for you. Thank you for helping me find Him.

I’ve always been Daddy’s girl. You gave me such a strong foundation with your love, approval and confidence in me. We didn’t always have to discuss everything, but I could always feel the love and understanding in the warmth of your smile and the few words you would give.

Although I miss you so much my soul aches and often leaks out my eyes, I know that “As for God, his way is perfect” and I am so glad you are healed and healthy now.

Happy first birthday in Heaven. When I picture you there, I think of you as you are in one of my favorite pictures. I was around Claira’s age, maybe 2 or 3, and you were young and the picture of strength and health. You were squatting down next to me,  your blue lipped little girl, smiling. I know you are  young and healthy again, smiling, thinking of how much we all still love you down here, knowing that in heaven you are not bound by time, and it really will be just a little while and we will all be united.

Looking out on the horizon above the water, as those gray early clouds have broken to let the sun and blue skies in, I am trying to do the same thing. Heaven is just over that horizon!

I love you, Daddy. I’ll see you soon.