A line of gold thread

Sally - me and daddy

During the summer of 1969, a middle age man held his new born baby day in and day out knowing that he was leaving for Vietnam and understanding the very real possibility that he’d never see that baby grow up. He held that baby when she slept and cooed at her when she was awake. When she was six weeks old, he left for his tour of duty.

Thankfully, that father returned to his family safely. Even more wonderful than that, he was there to watch his five children grow up! That man has held my heart for the past 46 years! His love and devotion to his family have been a constant source of security in my life. I can honestly say, from my earliest memories, that I felt truly cherished. I have never once doubted that, no matter what happened, my daddy would take care of me.

There’s something like a line of gold thread running through a man’s words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself. ~John Gregory Brown

My father’s unconditional love prepared my heart for the unsurpassed unconditional love of my Savior. Perhaps, fully trusting and believing that my father loved me and wanted great things for me, enabled me to more easily trust and believe that my God loved me beyond belief and would give me the desires of my heart if I sought Him diligently.

My dad has cheered me on and supported me in every endeavor that I can ever remember. I wrote lessons I learned from my parents  a while ago. I also wrote a mother’s day tribute to my mom just a few months after helping her recover from a knee replacement! With parents who have been married since 1953 and unified in raising their five children, it’s a little difficult to determine which parent taught me which lessons. Pardon any repetition… clearly together they taught me a whole lot!

In the baby lies the future of the world. Mother must hold the baby close so that the baby knows it is his world but the father must take him to the highest hill so that he can see what his world is like. ~ Mayan Indian Proverb

Sally - Daddy and john 1(1973: The man I remember from my childhood. This is my dad and my little brother. I had just turned four!)

I can’t even begin to express how often I think of how he would respond to certain situations. It’s funny to me that, even across 500 miles, I can feel his presence when I smell freshly mown grass, freshly cut wood and coffee (and before 2008 — pipe smoke!). He spent hours in his shed out back working, and hours mowing the yard while I floated in the pool. Every time I mow our yard I think of him!

My dad retired as a Lt. Colonel from the US Army when I was about ten. He then embarked on a second career with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s department and retired once again over two decades later. He had a strong work ethic and worked hard to provide for his family. I never remember doing without. Not once. I remember always having what I needed and more. He had this amazing chalice always full of quarters…free for the taking. It seemed like love and money grew on trees when it came to my dad! His generosity was abundant! It was never about storing up treasures for himself—it was always about sharing with his loved ones.

My daddy drove me to the University of Florida in Gainesville in the summer of 1987 to embark upon my college years. He walked me down the aisle in the winter of 1991 to give me away for good! Sally - daddy and meMy dad has always been a moderate and well balanced man. I feel certain that was a blessing when it came to raising a rather emotional daughter who works best with extremes. Somehow my dad’s pragmatism helped me find some balance.

My dad has one of the most amusing, albeit often edgy, senses of humor. We never quite know what to expect from his comments and many of them are quite unforgettable. Just hours after his triple by-pass and aortic valve replacement, he was hooked up to all kinds of things in ICU and teasing my mom! One of his great joys is relating stories of all of us, and the many ridiculous situations we seem to get ourselves into – like the time he had to help me when I glued my fingers together with superglue!

His love and devotion were balanced with his not-quite-cynical outlook. While he made me feel cherished, he also taught me how to laugh at myself. His teasing was never too much, never mean hearted, and always seemed to cause me to see the realism and humor in negative situations. He took great pleasure in saying things just to get a rise out of his girls and we always knew his jesting was in good fun! Oh, how many times a slightly exasperated chorus of, “DADDY!” was heard in our home!

My dad is the kind of man who speaks what is on his mind with candor. He has always loved me for my strongly held and shared opinions, whether he agrees with them or not. He’s also good naturedly teased me about the speed of my chatter for as long as I can remember. He encouraged open and constant discussions and debate in our home. Many a table discussion was had over heated and controversial matters. I learned a lot about life at that dining room table!

We talked a lot in our home. We talked about life issues and we talked about death. My dad always spoke of death openly and as if it was simply part of life. Many of our conversations would probably seem irreverent to others. One thing my dad always did was speak frankly! As he’s aged, he has naturally become more emotional. He was the second youngest of fifteen children and most of them have passed away. Death is a bit more bittersweet in our latter years…we cherish what is behind us, look toward what is ahead of us and feel pangs of sorrow at missing what will happen when we are gone.

We live about nine hours away so we only see each other a few times a year and my daddy gives me the biggest hug every day of our visits and we unashamedly are brought to tears. In his older years, his words of love, tight hugs, and tears of joy have warmed my heart and reinforced the depth of his love! We both get teased often for our frequent tears of joy – when speaking about things dear to our hearts, when babies are around, when we remember good times – emotions are overwhelming when you love deeply. Still, loving deeply is worth all of the bittersweet tears that it brings!

In spite of all the strong emotions evoked from living miles apart, my dad always brings me down to earth. The funniest illustration of this happened during our last visit. My parents were sitting on the porch watching us all swim … I was trying to impress Josh with my diving, swimming and handstands. My mother was quite impressed with my antics. Always full of praise for my accomplishments – she turned to my dad eagerly for him to watch me. It was entirely evident that he wasn’t nearly as impressed as my mom and his response was so typical — lighthearted banter to balance her praise. My dad is well known for his wry comments – that shake of the head and often heard laugh! Miles away, that voice still echos in my head: years of storytelling, whistling dozens of tunes, singing hymns, sharing strong opinions, teasing–so many good memories!

Dads are most ordinary men turned by love into heroes, adventurers, story-tellers, singers of songs. ~Pam Brown

My dad kept me grounded. My parents balanced one another perfectly. The two of them together have a way of making me feel like I can do anything – that I am valued beyond belief – while still teaching me to laugh at myself and to always understand that there is always room to learn and grow. I know the joy of loving parents. God’s design for family relationships is a wonderful blessing indeed!


 Note: There are dozens of albums with pictures of my early years…many with my dad and me. Every time I visit Florida, I somehow forget to copy them. Thanks to my brother’s wife for scanning several from our childhood, including the one that I used above of my father and my little brother!



Category: Musings
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