Anyone who ever says to the words to me “your dad” can’t help but say it with a mixture of warmth, sentimentality, and a hint of humour. I’m the same. When anyone asks me about my dad, I smile to myself, and can’t quite put into words exactly what I feel. I can be speaking to someone for the first time ever, and when they realize I’m “Spencer’s daughter” it’s as though they immediately warm to me and can’t wait to tell me how much they like him.
My dad has always been a place of safety for me. I used to love to go places with him, to the hardware store, anywhere. I just liked riding in his car, in comfortable silence. It was a neutral zone in my life. Although I’m very grateful for all the health food I was exposed to by my mother, the all natural juices, co-op orders full of whole wheat fruit juice sweetened cereals, and carob flavoured peanut butter cups, when I was with my dad, there were no rules about food. I could basically choose anything I wanted from the rack of treats at the convenience store on the way home from ballet or anywhere. It was ok. The world was not going to end from me eating a Charleston Chew and drinking something carbonated.
I know it will be the same for me with my own kids. I’ll be busy concocting some healthy version of chocolate chip cookies, while their dad will simply buy them a packet of chocolate buttons…and it will really be ok!
My dad has passed on to me many things including a love of coffee, an ear for music, the ability to burst into fits of unrestrained laughter over things other people don’t find as funny, a heart to encourage people, and the freedom to just….be. I have a lot of memories of my dad just….being. For most of my life I remember him enduring a 3 hour commute every day to work, and looking back I’m surprised he had any energy at all to run me to and from anywhere in the evening. On a hot summer day when everyone was outside, in the water, or getting work done in the garden, my dad would be content sat inside on his computer, or watching a movie. I admire that in him now. In a world that doesn’t stop, in a world that values people only for what they do, in a world where jobs are never quite finished, and there is always something you should be doing, he could quite happily be content..just to be.
As an adult now, and especially as a mother, it’s easy to feel guilty when I’m doing nothing, and temporarily checking out….yet I know my dad would be the last person to judge me, and that’s a great feeling.
These days we live in different worlds. We have many differences of opinion on politics and issues, however, despite that, I believe my dad is an excellent judge of character when it comes to people he knows in real life, and I believe he has great insight into important situations. I spent much time in prayer over whether or not to come to England when I was in Ireland, yet I was still fairly young, and when I heard my dad vocalize his encouragement to me, I felt overwhelmed with peace. In other times in my life I’ve found myself in sticky situations, or in situations that I’ve been felt extremely vulnerable and afraid to face head on, and somehow my dad has been able to wade in at just the right time with great wisdom and insight.
I remember my dad at bed time when I am with my own kids. He was great at putting me to bed. He always had time for another story, or another game, and he made it fun. He would pretend to give me horse rides from the living room to my bedroom, and in between reading stories, he would tell me stories about when he was a kid. As a mother I find bed time hard to savor, I want to rush it, to skip pages of the story and rush down the stairs to my evening, and I know my kids pick up on my impatience. Yet I never had that sense from my dad. It always felt like he genuinely enjoyed spending that time with me. I now understand what a gift that was.
Last summer when I was visiting, he took it upon himself to drive me to Milwaukee to meet my older brother, and on the way we went through the drive through at Starbucks and he bought us both a coffee, asking if I wanted anything else…I didn’t but it felt so good to be asked.…like I was his little girl again, feeling so secure, and content. I savored that ride up to Milwaukee with him, chatting easily, drining our coffees, not afraid of any silences.
Someone recently encouraged me, regarding something coming up in my life I was expressing apprehension about, and they said, “you just need to know that the pressure is off you….God’s already gone ahead of you, so just know that there is no pressure on you” The word was just what I needed for the situation, but later on I thought more about it, and I realised that when I think of my dad, I feel no pressure. Living overseas, naturally I miss him, I feel slightly sad when I realise we haven’t spoken or emailed in awhile, and there are many things about me and my life here in England that he’ll probably never get his head around completely, but despite that, there is absolutely no pressure felt from him whatsoever, I only feel his love, and his approval and his pride in me, even when he may not be entirely up to speed with every detail of my life…..somehow I just know in my heart that it is unconditional….no matter what happens.
I love you Dad……thank you for just being. In just being, you have actually modelled to me the love of my Heavenly Father better than you imagined.