The air carried the crispness of fall when nearly seventeen years ago, my husband and I traversed the middle of the country from where we were living in Ohio to visit our family in Oklahoma. It was a surprise trip – we didn’t tell my parents we were coming. We parked up the lane from my parent’s house just left of the timber, and I hopped out of the car to peek around the rustling trees. Seeing no one in the yard, I high-tailed it in a mad sprint for the house. I made an abrupt halt before reaching the large front windows of the living room.
After approaching the glass, I cupped my hands near my face so I could see into the living room. My dad sat in the beige recliner, head down over a book. He didn’t hear me approach the window, so I quietly tap tap tapped on the glass. His head popped up and then his grin broke out of the gate. He laughed and as he stood up, I heard him say to my mom, “Hey Lou Ann?! Lou Ann!! You’ll never believe who is looking through our front window!”
On this cool fall morning, I find myself cupping my hands up to the glass again looking at reels of memories with my daddy. I look in and see the way he threw me in the air when I was little.
I see the way he usually said yes to a once-a-week stop at the Shamrock gas station for a coke after school.
I see him telling me bedtime stories every single night, even after an exhausting day of hard work at the Conoco refinery.
I see him dancing with me in the kitchen while singing Johnny Cash tunes.
I see him showing me how the fingerprints of God could be found everywhere in the world. . . and in my own insecure, teenagery self.
A long time ago, someone told me my dad is a modern day Will Rogers in that he never met a man he didn’t like. I don’t know if that’s completely true, but I do know that more often than not, most people who know my Dad like him. He is warm and hilarious and instantly puts others at ease.
When I was a teenager, my dad was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. And while an attack would flair up from time to time, he was by and large able to live life rather normally. More recently, however, things have turned on a hairpin curve. And if I peek through the glass at my daddy today, the image I see is nowhere near that of my memories.
Life moves along, seasons illuminate and fade, and disease that sleeps wakes up and catches up. It’s such a sad, difficult thing to watch, but there are blessings tied into the heartache, too. As much as the MS wears at dad’s mind and body, it hasn’t messed with his heart. The place from which springs his ability to love well remains untouched, and for that I’m so thankful it makes me cry. Because y’all, loving well has always been what my daddy does best. Long after he strolls the hallways of heaven, his legacy here on earth will live because of the way he loves others.
When all the layers of our abilities and talents are peeled back and people’s PhD’s, best-sellers, trophies and first place finishes are shoved in attic corners, all that will remain is how well we loved others. All that will remain is how well we told others about how much Jesus loves them.
We brush shoulders with people everyday, and we all have the choice to make a withdrawal from or a deposit into every soul we meet. With each deposit, we get to pass a bit of us on to live in others. We get to show folks Jesus by letting them know they’re seen, they matter, and they are appreciated. We get to remind them that God sent Jesus to fill our empty places, and only He can fill it to overflowing.
If we want to be great, to really leave our mark in the world and know our life counted, we tap into that overflowing place and deposit Christ’s love into someone else. We encourage them to do the same. We love on and help others live on.
My daddy does this so, so well.
May the same be said for me, his daughter.
If y’all would keep my family in your prayers (especially my mama and baby sister who work so hard to care for my daddy at home), I’d be so grateful. xo
Bethany M. says
Just such a beautiful post about the legacy that your father has left! What an excellent man. You have such a lovely writing style, and I have been following your blog for some time. Keep it up! I love reading anything you write!
Thank you for the generous, kind words, Bethany. You are appreciated!
What a wonderful post and tribute to your dad. I will be praying for your sweet dad, mom , sister and the rest of your family. Thankful he knows Jesus.
I’m thankful for that too — as well as for your prayers. Thank *you*.
Wonderful post about your dad, Kristen.
Bev Duncan @ Walking Well With God says
I love the story you weave about your dad and the way he modeled to you the heart of Christ. What a wonderful gift that is for you and what a legacy of love your dad has built over his lifetime! May we all aspire to do the same…thanks so much for sharing!
Love and ((hugs)),
What a beautiful tribute to your father. He sounds like an awesome soul! We’ll keep you all in my prayers. xox
Angela Giles Klocke says
Oh Kristen, this is beautiful. I have tears in my eyes. You are so good!
You are so generous, Angela. Love you! And thank you. xo
Oh Kristin , I’m setting here with tears rolling down my cheeks after reading this. You are so talented in your writing and expressing what we all feel for your Daddy. A sweeter soul I don’t think I have ever seen, although my Mama and your Grandma would be right there with him. He has always been a big part of my life, I don’t ever remember a time in my life that he wasn’t a part of it. My “Hoydie” has always been and will be forever my favorite. Thank you so much, you are your Fathers daughter in every way…Suzy
Suzy!!! A warm wave and a big hug to you!
Yep, if medals were given for kindness, Aunt Annie, Grandma, and Dad would all be on the podium. For sure.
I know you are a favorite of his, too. Truly.
Thanks for being such a light in our family . . . not sure what we’d do without you. xoxo
Kristen, I played softball with Sara and your dad was our coach. Way back in the day. 🙂 I remember his smile and that he was a really nice coach! This is such a beautiful post. I will be praying for you and your family.
Christy! What an amazing grace to find you here! Goodness, the memories you bring back.
Thank you for dropping by to leave such a kind note. I know it means the world to my family. God bless and keep you and yours.
Beth Williams says
Prayers for you mama and sister who care for you dad. May God give him more good days than bad and not to much suffering!
I can relate to what they are going through. My mom had dementia. After a lengthy hospital stay, rehab, ICU, more rehab she came home with Sundowners. She was bedridden for 2 years and daddy took care of her 24/7. It was tough watching her slowly progress worse and worse. I was relieved when she died she was finally free from any pain and dad could have a life.
He did well for 4 years and now he is having some medical problems. Fortunately he is in an assisted living. I am blessed to have him make this decision!
Elysa Fingerlos says
I just wanted to say you are so cute and adorable! I have been reading you blog for quite some time now and enjoy it oh so much. I am not one to usually comment, I just silently read in the background soaking up your wonderful words and inspiration. Thank you for doing what you do.
And now I read this. It is beautiful, Kristen. So moving.
Girl, I remember driving up and surprising your parents with a visit too! Must have been during college years, and how fun was that – because of how much love your dad was always ready to share! What a gentle, loving man! I loved how he read nightly devotionals to y’all. Even on sleepover nights, to your friends too! What an example, a teacher of love! 🙂 Grateful to have known all y’all! 🙂
Is his condition a lot worse? I am quite sad to hear. I will be praying for him! And your mom and sis.
Miss ya! 🙂
His love, Cathy
Maria Marino says
You bet, your dad’s legacy is living on through you even to people like me whom you’ve never met. Thank you for the words that touch my heart, make me smile and bring me closer to the heart of God.
I am so sorry and heartbroken to hear about your dad, Kristen. Will keep praying for him, your mom and sister who are caring for him, and the whole family through this difficult time.