I wish I was twelve years old again.
No bills, car repairs, or commitments. Limited expenses, appointments and responsibilities, and a set curfew and bedtime every night…STRICTLY ENFORCED.
I remember those summer days like it was yesterday; You’re out in your garden, tying up and pruning your grapevines, and pulling weeds from the enormous vegetable patch. Mom is in the kitchen, whistling a tune while she washes home-grown produce. Sister is on the phone with a friend up the road making plans to go for a bike ride after chores are completed, and I’m impatiently waiting for my turn on the phone to make some plans of my own.
Life was relatively simple then, although I didn’t appreciate or even recognize it yet. How I’d love to be able to travel back in time and re-do some things.
Let me clarify that.
I wish I could return to the past with my present knowledge and experience…some things I would re-do in exactly the same way…and other things, knowing what I know now, I could re-do in a whole different way. One thing in which I would love to have a complete “do-over”, is how I related to you as my Daddy.
Since this is June, and Father’s Day is just around the corner, you are on my mind, and I am missing you a lot! Sometimes, when I’m in that twilight zone of not quite asleep, but no longer awake, I hear you talking and laughing. I miss your smile, your uproarious laughter, and your loud, bold, extroverted personality. I miss your old time classic country music, your off-key hymn singing, and your bold witness of your love for Jesus. It’s funny, the things I miss most about you today are the very things that drove me nuts and embarrassed me so much when I was a kid.
Our relationship was tumultuous, to put it mildly. We, two headstrong individuals, both with stubborn wills and impatience, were prone to selfish demands, loud, angry outbursts, and profound dysfunction. Poor Mom. She really was so very patient with us, wasn’t she? After I left home and we began building our relationship as adults, you let me in on some secrets that shed light on your personality and habits. I got hints that there was more to learn, but unfortunately, your time with us was shortened and my brain did not engage in time to ask you the questions that I would ask today if you were here.
What were you like as a child? What kind of temperament did you have? What did you like to do?
Tell me about your own relationship with your Daddy and Momma. How did they show their affection, approval or disapproval?
You had eight siblings, local grandparents, and a handful of aunts and uncles…tell me about those dynamics.
Were you allowed to disagree with those in authority, and hold an opinion of your own?
How were you trained to handle disappointment, fear, and bullies?
Where did you learn your work ethic? What kind of examples did you have?
How were you taught to show compassion, love and tenderness? Did you have good/bad examples of this?
What was your biggest fear as a child? What did you do with that fear? How did you cope?
Did you ask a lot of questions? Were you given the answers, or shown how to find the answers? What did that process look like?
Did you like school? Why, or why not? Did you enjoy your childhood, or were you in a hurry to grow up and be independent?
Tell me again, how you met Mom. I love that story.
What did her parents think of you? What kind of relationship did you have with them?
As a husband and Daddy, what was your biggest fear? Your greatest accomplishment?
You worked away a lot in your early marriage, how did you guard your love and commitment during those times?
How did you develop your rich prayer life?
Tell me about a time when God showed up in a miraculous way for you.
Did you struggle with sin? Did you learn how to master it? If so, how?
If you could go back in time and fix one thing, what would it be? How do you think life would be different as a result?
I often wonder if only I’d have had the presence of mind to pick your brain when I was young, how different our relationship may have been. I wish I’d have learned how to communicate effectively with you instead of kicking against the goads that you used to guide and protect me. I know you weren’t perfect, but I never doubted your love for me for a minute. I believe you did as we all do, that is, you did the best with what you had where you were, and I’m a better person because of it, hard as it was, Dad. I am so thankful for your love, perseverance and prayers for me. I like to think your prayers continue with eternal perspective.
Thank you. I love you and look forward to that wonderful day when we will meet again.