Thursday, August 2, 2007

My Dad

Thirty years ago in 1977 my dad was thirty, with coke bottle glasses. A former Marine who fought in the Vietnam War, turned business man. He kept a pristine short hair cut parted on the side. On a hot muggy Singapore evening he became a father for the first time. The night was April 1st and he and my mother were expecting their first son. Having previously had a baby shower, their lives were now seeing blue and anything else that goes along with baby boys, like baseball bats and "little slugger" onesies.

My mother was in labor for 24 hours. It seemed the little guy was quite comfortable where he was and didn't want to come out. Although considering the weather in Singapore was probably as hot as the inside of my mother's womb, it wouldn't have mattered either way.

None-the-less, out she came. Yes, she. With blue eyes, red hair and pink skin, that he was a she and that she, was me. All the dreams of playing catch and teaching him how to dribble the basketball went flying out the window in an instant. A girl. What's this man supposed to do with a baby girl? Girls wear pink. Girls wear dresses and play dress up. How was a first time father supposed to relate to her? If I was the boy he was expecting, I suppose fatherhood might have been a little easier for him. He was planning on knowing what he was getting. But just when we think we have things figured out, we don't.

His voice was so loud and deep to me that as an infant I would blink consistently, with a startled expression on my face whenever he spoke. "HELLO, COLLEEN!" My father would boom as if he were addressing an adult.
"You're too loud." My mother would coach him gently. "You need to speak softly to her." She would say. And so he fumbled through Fatherhood the first time around with a baby girl in his arms that he named Colleen Anne.

Almost two years to the day later in Hong Kong, my father got the son he was expecting two years earlier. Only this time, the doctors got it right. Almost another two more years and a second daughter was born. At 34 he was a father of three babies, just under 4. (What were you guys thinking!) Ha! (I don't think they were;)

When I was a little girl, my dad looked like Clark Kent. He even told me he was Superman. I remember him telling me "Yes, Colleen, I'm Superman and when you go to bed at night, I change my clothes and fly out the balcony to save the world." I was in love...I kind of knew he was joking, but I just made believe he wasn't. What three year old wouldn't want to believe that?

Fast forward...thirty years have past. My father is now 60. Wow. I write that, and it is hard for me to see. I am now his adult daughter. 60 sounds old to me, yet when I look at my father, I don't think of a 60 year old man who could be a grandfather. I think of him, as he refers to himself as "Buff Dad". He is an avid cyclist and swimmer. My father has never been fat. Nor will he ever be. He won't sit down long enough.

My dad is not a perfect man. He is not the perfect father. He is not the perfect husband. But I know that I was chosen for him, as he was chosen for me. We've learned together and I have a very good relationship with him. Probably better than most women or girls I've known.

Sometimes, I struggle in my personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. I struggle with condemnation. I struggle with guilt. I struggle with shame. It makes me feel like I can't go to Him in prayer because I don't think He'll want me. I don't think God wants me because I'm just too bad. Sad, the deception of that thought. Yet at times I still think it.

Then I'm reminded of the love my earthly father has consistently shown me. My father sends me flowers for no reason at all, except to remind me that he loves me. He has done this for me my whole life, ever since I can remember. He's done this for the three of us women. Six years ago I moved clear across the country and my father has sent me cards, postcards and or letters once a month if not more to remind me how he loves me and how much I mean to him. What he doesn't know is that I've saved almost every one, because someday when he is no longer here I will still have his words to remind me. Just the way Jesus gave us His words to remind us. I know I'm not his favorite child. He doesn't play favorites, but still he me makes me feel like I am.

My father reaches out to me, more than I reach out to him. Not because he has to, but because I'm his child and he can't help himself. Yet, the Bible talks about how much more God loves each and every one of us. He created us and He can't help Himself. The Bible says that He knew me in the secret place, where I was created. He knew every part of me, my weaknesses, my strengths. Knowing the weaknesses I would have, I suppose that's why he gave me the earthly father that he did. As a constant reminder of His own fragrant love for me.

So tonight as I end this with tears streaming down my face I'm just overpowered by the Goodness of God and the father he gave me.