Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Touch of a Father's Hand

My dad was around 6 ft. tall, not really a giant, but to a child, his size could be intimidating. My friends were sometimes a little afraid of him, which I could never understand. To me he was just Daddy, the man who loved me and took care of me. My friends soon learned there was nothing to be afraid of, because he was so kind and welcoming to them.

(having a laugh at the table)

I remember his hands were large. He wanted me to show him how to play the piano, but his fingers were so large that he couldn't seem to play just one key. His finger would automatically get two at a time. He did love to hear me play and wanted me to be a concert pianist, but as much as I loved playing, that was not my desire. I played for fun, for inspiration and for worship.

One day when I was about 4 years old my dad and I were walking hand in hand. He saw that I was having to run to keep up with his big strides, so he put his hands around my waist, lifted me up, and carried me along. It felt almost like I was floating through the air.

(my family when I was 3)

Through the years I never doubted my dad's love and that he cared about me, my brothers and my mother. We did not always see eye to eye. Sometimes he would take me to choir or youth meeting and we would not even speak to each other on the way, usually because I was angry at him for not letting me do something or go somewhere.

Mostly, though, I always wanted to go with him when he went to the store or wherever. I enjoyed being in his presence. On one occasion I was sitting in the front seat with him when he reached over, patted my knee and said, “I've got a pretty daughter.”

That meant the world to me, and I will never forget it.

Always before bed both parents would hug and kiss me and let me know they loved me. This continued even when I was grown and had kids of my own. Whenever we would visit, we would share the nightly hugs and kisses, and my kids also were included.

(My dad with my daughters)

Often during the day, when he passed by where I was sitting or standing, my dad would put his heavy hand on my head or on my shoulder. It was one of his ways of telling me he that he saw me and loved me. My girls remember him doing it to them sometimes, too. He loved his grandchildren dearly.

Most of my married life we lived pretty far from my parents, so it was a treat when we or they would visit. We probably saw them twice a year for a week at a time. Every week they would call on the phone and we'd catch up on recent events. It got to the point where I'd have to let all my kids say hello before I could talk or they'd be begging me the whole time.

I have two more special memories of the touch of my father's hand.

One morning while still in bed I got a call from my brother telling me Daddy was in the hospital and they didn't really know what the problem was. Two weeks later I found myself, along with my 15 month old son, on a plane ready to go to FL hoping to make it before it was too late. Our flight was delayed five hours, two of which were after we had boarded the plane.

When we finally arrived it was after visiting hours at the hospital, but after we left my son at my parents' house where someone was babysitting my brother's kids, we went on to the hospital. They were kind enough to ignore the rules for us.

When I went in to see my dad, he opened his eyes and smiled. He reached up his hand and ran his fingers through my hair, and I think I must have grabbed and held his hand.

My dad's touch always meant so much to me.

(my dad wearing the suspenders my daughter made for him)

After that night his responses were dwindling and I never saw him smile again or open his eyes, but we were assured that he could still hear us. My brother read to him a sweet letter my oldest daughter had written to her grandfather. I knew that I would not be able to keep from crying if I tried to read it aloud.

The last time I held my father's hand was just before they took him for one last surgery. My mother, brothers and I had met with the doctors and had agreed to this one last effort even though it might not help. I remember he was squeezing my hand tightly, and I wondered later if he was trying to tell me that he did not want to go through with the surgery. It was as if he knew that it would be pointless. He never did regain consciousness.

The night he died my mother and both my brothers were with him. I had gone back to my mother's house where my sisters-in-law were also staying. I also knew that my son would need to nurse before he went to sleep that night. Looking back, I can see that it was better for me not to be there when he died. I don't know if I could have handled it. My brothers were super supportive to my mom and I'm glad they were there with her.

(my parents at their 40th anniv. less than a year before he died)

It has been 23 years since I lost my father and I no longer have the touch of his hand, but my heavenly Father is always with me. I feel His touch through people He has put into my life, through His provision of my needs, and through the peace He gives me as I read His word and pray and trust.  One day I will see my father again, because he is with our Father in heaven.

I'm linking up with #livefreeThursday. Today's prompt is the power of touch. I'm also joining the #DanceWithJesus Friday linkup!

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