Anybody who knows me, knows that I am a bit of a Facebook junkie. One of the apps I use is an inspirational message service that says “Today God Wants You to Know”. It provides little tidbits of wisdom and advice that often have me imagining God at a computer typing away. One particular message came early on February 5th with the notation “Today, you should celebrate what an unbelievable life you have had so far:, the many blessings, and, yes, even the hardships… Take a time to acknowledge your life.”
It didn’t resonate that much at first, but it has come back to me over and over in the past few hours. Just a short while ago I received a call from my hometown sheriff’s office, “Michelle, we found your dad.”
In between the tears and phone calls and the identification process, I kept hearing over and over “celebrate.”
I found myself at one point wanting to scream out to a voice others could not hear, “ Celebrate What? For What?”
A resounding, “Sunday” was the answer.
You see, my dad had not been a part of my life for a lion’s share of it. I was an adult before I really became aware of him. By the mercies and the promptings of a loving God, the past 15 years were about forgiveness and us getting to know each other. Especially the last 10 where we had become so close that you could not tell he had not been there always.
One of the things we both looked forward to were our Sunday morning chats. Like clockwork, at 6:55 a.m. every single Sunday morning (including on my honeymoon) my dad would call and we would chat about his week and whatever was on his mind at the time. We often “watched church“ together on our respective TV sets as he lived 45 minutes away and was not able to travel as much anymore.
For about a month of Sundays, which makes perfect sense now, Pop’s conversations had turned more serious and purposeful. He talked a lot about regrets, and memories and things he wished he could have done. Our very last conversation, was very much about his biological mother, Ruth and his adoptive mother, Edith, both of whom I never got to know.
He had not been able to locate his biological mother, who had left him when he was four, and had concluded that she was the reason he could not understand the concept of family enough to be there for me and my brothers and sisters when we were growing up. He apologize for it again, as he had about a million times over the past 10 years. My answer to him was to let it go, thank her for giving him life and to release her and himself.
I pray I was successful in convincing him that her giving him away as a single mother in the late 1940s might have been her way of loving him and his younger brother. Knowing that she had no prospects and her rumored substance addiction were no life for them, she allowed them to be delivered to their adoptive mother, a blessed woman who had bore no children of her own.
Of Grandma Edith, he spoke specifically of the day she died, preparing him for what was to come by buying him a car and taking her hidden savings out of her account to make sure he had money in his pocket. Before she went to bed that night, the last words she would say to him were “I just want to make sure you were straight, cause nobody is ever going to love you the way I do, baby.” To this I said, “She was your gift, Pop. Always be thankful for her. She was your real mother.”
My dad went on to talk about all phases in his life. His joys and regrets. It moved me so much that in my spirit, I kind of knew what was about to come. I ended the conversation by telling him that it is not about what happened in the past and who did and did not love him back then, but rather who he was today and who loves him now. We went on to talk about the big birthday he had coming up and that in a few short weeks, I was going to take him out to his favorite restaurant to celebrate. I had planned to surprise him by making sure all the grands-kids and great-grands were in attendance, a feat that always eluded us.
My dad’s last words were to me were “ Thank you, Baby, you made my mama wrong….. somebody does love me like her… you.”
And I remember saying, “And Jesus.”
As I take my Facebook mandate to celebrate, I will be sure to not only celebrate my life with my dad , but also the one I now face without him. Though my heart is heavy, I have no regrets or qualms about the past because I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that my Pop loved me and he knew I loved him….and most importantly…. AND JESUS.
Enjoy your Flight with Wings, Pop!