Neither Rachelle nor Evonne has a habit of tallying losses, but on a day like Father’s Day in a year as grief-ridden as this has been, it’s hard for the fatherless and the widow not to feel the irony.
These losses make me even more aware of how fortunate I am to have my dad. He lost his father when he was still in grade school. Naturally, he imagined he would follow suit.
As kids, we lived only half-resigned to the dread of Dad’s early death. We feared it but we knew it was coming. It was as real and as expected as other unavoidable certainties like swim workouts or going away to college.
But we dreaded this most of all.
And now, against all prophecies of doom, he has survived. By God’s grace, he is cashing social security checks, yelling at the Lakers, chasing the Four Freshmen around the country with Mom as they celebrate their 60th anniversary (the Four Freshmen, that is), and working 80-hour weeks during tax season. (We still pray he’ll retire. Soon.)
Best of all, he is goofing off with my three little girlies. Listening with rapt attention as Melía tells about her prize snails and roly-polies. Making faces. Tickling his way down Ashlyn’s face saying, “Fore-bender, eye-winker, tom-tinker, nose-smeller, mouth-eater, chin-chopper, gully-gully-gully!” and cackling as raucously as she does. Playing hide-and-go-seek. Teaching Brielle how to cast with her new Barbie fishing pole (and dig that visual). Reading about Jesus calming the storm with real sound effects, the wind and waves rocking all four of them in the La-Z-Boy. (They eat this up as much as I did at their age.)
These are all things of beauty that I never imagined. Measures of soul music after movements of monotone. Breathtaking vistas out of miles of fog. They take me by surprise—as heaven will no doubt do when it comes in fullness—because I never dared to think of any of this. My vision was too short to see myself with children, much less with my dad around to enjoy them. It is unanticipated delight. Serendipity. An ambush of joy.
“I’m wrong. I’m always wrong,” you have often lamented. You are far from always wrong. But I’m glad you were wrong on this one, Big Dada. Really glad.
We love you.