My Dad

IMG_0531“Ta Die Ma” Dad would often say as he came through the door after work.  It was a phrase that he had picked up from his year in Japan and it was music to our ears.  When Dad was home, it was the final and official indication that home school was over for a day.  We would clear what was left of books and projects off the dining room table to make room for supper.

Dad was always home for supper except when he had long commutes.  Super long commutes.  Dad did what he had to do to provide for his family and sometimes that included hours on the road every day.

After dinner, we had family devotions.  We read the Bible, Character Sketches, other devotional books.

We didn’t have a TV.  But sometimes we went to the park to play baseball or tennis or played basketball in the driveway.  And each evening before bed, Dad would read to us.  Over the years, he read the entire Anne of Green Gables series, the entire Little House on the Prairie series, the Little Women series, and more.  While other men might have been watching football, Dad would be sitting on our bedroom floor reading about the Ingalls’ long trip west.  And when Jack the faithful bulldog walked his last mile under the wagon and all five of us cried, Dad was in tears too.

Dad was our biggest cheerleader.  When I used to write little stories, poems, songs, and skits, he was the first one I would show them to.  He would usually tell me that he was impressed that someone my age would write stories, poems, songs, and skits on her own initiative.  Looking back, that was probably the nicest thing he could think of to say about my work.  But I was always encouraged.

I wanted to play guitar and I think it was mostly because my dad did.  He had a repertoire of songs and we would sing them together every few months when he pulled out his guitar and tuned the strings.  Dad loved to sing—and not just when he was playing guitar.  In fact, Dad’s favorite thing in all the world to this day seems to be Christmas Caroling.  Any time of the year.  I have enough material on that for a whole blog of its own.

For a few years, Dad had four teenage daughters.  Not many men could handle that.  Not many men who worked a nine to five job at a private university.  We were never wealthy and I’ll probably never know just how much my parents sacrificed to put all four of us through braces.  But for all the good traits Dad passed down, straight teeth was not one of them.  And while he could grow a mustache, that was not a desirable option for us girls.

Dad loved to grill.  We loved it when he went to the grocery store because he would come back with more than just hamburgers.  He would buy chips, soda, and dessert…things my mom would never buy.  He has expanded his culinary skills and now he not only grills Thanksgiving turkey but also makes breakfast often.

I suppose Dad, like most guys, would have liked to own fast, cool cars.  But he hasn’t had any as long as I’ve been alive.  In fact, more often than not, he got to spend his Saturdays trying to fix the family van.  We didn’t always have two cars, but when we did, his was usually even less reliable than the family van.  When his truck was stolen—a truck that was two different colors in the front and back; had a broken gas indicator, and boasted a block of wood for a parking break—the police found it not too long afterwards.  I guess it wasn’t even worth the upkeep when the price was free.

When I was about 11, we bought a Chevy van for $6500.  That was the most we ever spent for a vehicle and I thought we were big stuff.  It was just a few days later that I accidently scraped the “new van” with a hose while trying to wash it.  I expected Dad to be mad when he saw it, but he didn’t really say much.  I remember clearly that night when he came in to tuck us into bed and he told me he loved me.  His treasure was not in his cars.  It was his family.

But that’s just a glimpse of who my dad is.

When I think of him, I often think of Proverbs 20:6 – “Most men will declare his own goodness, but a faithful man, who can find?”

We live in a culture in which faithfulness is the exception rather than the rule.  It is not even expected anymore.  Not really in any arena—employment, marriage, church attendance, anything.  It is increasingly hard to be faithful.  It is increasingly easy to cheat.  Most people will take the easy road.

But not my dad.  He was the one who tried to convince me to stick with piano lessons when I wanted to quit.  He was always at church no matter what the weather and he would have all of us there with him.  He taught Awana Clubs, Sunday School, lead worship, and coached basketball week after week and year after year.  He was the kind of man you could count on.  He worked tirelessly to provide for his family, even when jobs were hard to come by.

So…in the answer to the question, “a faithful man, who can find?”

The answer would be: my mom.