Written: May 2004
Posted: July 2, 2004, as we approach the first anniversary of my father's death
Born: October 11, 1929
Died: July 24, 2003
When I was a child, I had the utmost faith in my father's ability to "fix" anything. My mother loves to tell the story of a time when I, as a very young child, broke a bowl. It frustrated her and caused me to tell her, "Don't worry -- Daddy 'pix.'" I was blessed to have that faith in my earthly father's ability to fix all my broken things translate into faith in my heavenly Father. And His ability to fix all of the broken places in my life. The faith I developed in my Heavenly Father was born and nurtured under the guiding hand and loving heart of my earthly father. It was his steadfast devotion and simple trust that was always the model for my own struggling attempts to trust in the Lord.
My father continued to be the family "fixer" -- fixing everything from broken sinks and broken hearts to chairs and the handmade wooden rubber band guns that were a favorite of my grandsons. And sprinkled in with the "fixing" were always gentle reminders to take care of things and treat them properly -- Dad's own way of teaching good stewardship.
When my father became ill, and we knew he would be dying soon, I tried to share with my grandchildren my faith that God our Father could fix anything -- including Great-Granddaddy's illness. My family was so fortunate that my father felt he could talk about his upcoming death and because of that, we were all able to prepare for it -- as much as you can prepare for something like that. I spent time with my little ones, ages 3 and 4, and we talked quite a bit about how Great-Granddaddy would go to heaven and he would see Jesus. And how he would be able to watch over us and love us from heaven, just as he always had here on earth.
You never know how much a child takes in and remembers and when my father died, my grandsons seemed unsure of what to say and do. Most of the time, they seemed quite unaffected, which was only natural considering their tender ages.
As the months passed after Dad's death, he was mentioned and talked about less and less as we all got on with our lives. We got through the first birthday without Dad -- he would have been 74 that October. We got through the first Thanksgiving -- each of us giving thanks for Dad's presence in our lives as we talked about the things that we were most thankful for. We got through Christmas -- and that was hard. Christmas had always been Dad's holiday. He always went all out with decorations and fresh greenery, ornaments and little figurine scenes on every table. Central to it all was always a Bible, open to the Christmas story in Luke, and watched over by loving eyes by an old family Madonna.
When Spring came, we were all pretty much on an even keel, and my oldest grandson -- now five -- started his first year in baseball. He was quite impressed with himself and loved to share with his younger brother all the new little bits of wisdom and experience he was gaining as the older brother who played on a "real" team. He was playing in the house one evening after practice, wearing an old pair of plastic fanged teeth left over from Halloween and telling everyone who would listen that he was an "umpire!" We all had a good laugh over that -- a real 'kids say the darnedest things' moment.
But then -- the teeth broke. The plastic gave way and he was left with two pieces that would not stay in place when he tried to wear them. He came to me and asked, "Nana, can you fix my teeth?" I had to tell him, "No, I'm sorry. We can't fix these now -- they're too broken."
And Andrew, with the perfect faith of a child, and a memory I had never suspected, replied, "If Granddaddy was here -- he could fix them."
I was overcome. What a precious gift, this faith of a child! And indeed -- Granddaddy could have fixed those teeth. I'm sure it would have involved duct tape in some strange fashion, or his other favorite -- rubber cement. But when all was said and done, the teeth would have been fixed.
Dear Lord -- we miss him so much! Who will be the fixer of broken toys and fractured chair legs now? Who will mend our flat tires and oversee our construction projects? And God? Who will fix our broken hearts? Are You aware of our grief? Do you know how much his absence still hurts?
I cry, and then I am aware of the warmth of His love -- the love of a Father for His child. I am reminded of the biggest gift my father gave me -- the gift of faith. God knows our grief and will heal our sorrow. I am surrounded by love -- the love of my father, and my Father.