It wasn't until I had married, had children and given my life to Christ that I had some compassion and empathy for my dad. I remember the first time of visiting him from where we lived in Ca and getting ready to head back home. Kind of choking up and not wanting to say goodbye. Giving him a big awkward hug, that he was even less used to than I was. It was strange, but felt right. He was not a physical man, never hugged, kissed me or told me he was proud of me. But after that visit, if I got up to leave without hugging him, he would track me down for one. Our relationship changed. Not because he changed, but because I did. I had a heart to see his heartbreaks. To see his disappointments and failures and look past them and be grateful for the dad that God had given to me. Yes, given. My dad was a gift. For all his faults and failings, he was my dad. I had finally grown enough to realize how much he did love me even though he never showed it for years.
I think father's day for most of us is painful in some way. We either had a man who was a poor father, or maybe one who just wasn't emotionally available, or for me now, my dad is no longer here. I thank God that I had the chance to let my dad know before he died how much I loved him. That I was able to share my faith in God with him, and in the last moments of his life, to see him lift his arms to his heavenly Father and enter into his loving arms the moment he left mine.
God is a god of redemption. God redeemed me, then redeemed my relationship with my dad, and then redeemed his heart. I am glad, that even though the truth of the matter is that my dad was most of the time a failure as a dad, I could see that truth and with the love of God, accept him as he was and love us both into being better people. None of us is perfect. None but God, and He is such a God of love that He wants us to become better, and to take others with us on that journey. It is not easy. Most good things never are. It took work and tears and disappointments to bring me to the place of loving my dad, warts and all. And then to extend to him the same forgiveness that Jesus extended to me.
I am so grateful for that. And that I know that one day I will see my dad again. I will be able to rejoice with him in heaven with our Heavenly Father and know that is was all part of a plan. Maybe not even so much for my dad, but a plan to grow me up, to turn me into a strong compassionate woman who can love people unconditionally. I know there are times I still fail, but as long as most of my momentum is forward, then I feel I am doing what I am supposed to. First love God, then be able to love myself and accept His love and forgiveness, and then extend that love and forgiveness to others; whether I feel they deserve it or not. Oh, please know how great the reward is when we become more Christ-like. For us and for all those we come in contact with!!
A Tribute to my Dad
Some say that you were a hard-nosed cop, others called you "ol' mean eyes", but I just knew you as my Dad, who loved me.
My Dad: you taught me to swim, and you carried me in to a warm bath the day that I was 'brave' enough to dive into a freezing pool before my brother did.
My Dad: who took us camping, and taught me to fish. You roasted sunflower seeds in a frying pan for me. And carried me back from the store the time I stubbed my toe at Three Rivers.
My Dad: who took me trick-or-treating. You always made sure that I was safe, and that my bag was full when I came home.
My Dad: who, when I was a child, was my hero. You put your life on the line, "to protect and to serve", but no matter how busy you were, you brought me food from McDonald's if I was home sick.
My Dad: as a teenager, I forgot sometimes how much I loved you. And sometimes I forgot to respect you - and I apologize for that. It is not that you were any less special...I was. I was self-centered and forgot that parents are human too. Not always perfect, but always worthy of being honored. I'm sorry, Dad for the times that I hurt you.
Some moments during my teen years were painful. I was shy and withdrawn, and it was hard for me to make friends. I feel like I not only withdrew from the world, but from you and Mom, also. I lost that closeness that we had when I was a child, and was too insensitive to miss it.
But, as I grew older, and started making my own decisions, you may not have agreed with me, but you did stand behind me. And when my first marriage fell apart - I know now how much you must have hurt. And how much more it hurt when I didn't choose to come home. Then, when I felt lost and was broke in the big city, my Dad came and rescued me. But, I still didn't thank you, and I am sorry for that, and if I ever did anything to hurt the honor of the name Koivu.
Then I met a man that I knew I would marry the first time I spoke with him. And again, you supported my decision. I think that you even liked him!
Now, I am a mother of three, and living what sometime seems like a million miles away. And I miss my Dad. We went through some rough times, and you were always there for us. At a time when your 'little girl' was hurt, you were there, and when God put my marriage back together - you loved Jim as much as you always did. I respect you so much for that.
God has done so much in my life - He took a shy, overweight girl who was scared to death of crowds and turned her into a confident woman. But the best thing that He did was to let me be a little girl again, at least in my heart. A little girl who thinks the world of her Dad. One who loves him so much and is thankful to God for repairing all the damage wrought by an unthinking teenager.
I love you Dad, and I thank God every day of my life. You will always be my hero!