"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

father's day late

I spent last week on an emotional roller coaster ride at our LDS Girl's camp. There's a lot to say on that but not today.

Newel and I changed guard barely missing each other as he headed for the airport. I'd been holding together twenty some odd teenage girls. He'd been holding together the house, four little children and a forest fire creeping ever closer to our home.

As he was making his way toward Switzerland, I returned home to find all in order with happy children awaiting my return and the fire crisis abated.

"How was your time with Dad?" I asked Grant as I dropped suit cases in the front hall. Whizzing past me to the outside world with barely a glance, he called over his shoulder ... "It was great! And ... No one got hurt!!"

Thank heavens. On all accounts ;)

And thank heavens for a man who could hold it all together long enough for me to fulfill my responsibilities at the camp.

Sunday was quiet without a dad to celebrate. Still, I called my own. We talked of my Grandmother. He didn't gloss the situation. Facing open heart surgery on Friday at age ninety. Not great.

I've since been throwing things back in suitcases readying to make a B-line across the country tomorrow morning, in hopes of a little time with her beforehand.

Part of the preparations to go required the farming out of Cali's kittens. Handing off little furry bundles of happiness to eager hands in front of our local grocery store, was agreeable. Coming home to Cali's mournful cries and frantic searchings in every nook and cranny ... not so much.

There's been very little sleep and I think I'm still on that emotional roller coaster ride.

Today my beautifully poetic sister sent a father's day tribute to the entire family via email.

It had me on tearful brink all day.

And because I whirl-winded right past Father's day, it was too good not to share.

I hope your week was and is fantastic and your Father's day was full of gratitude for the men of your life and the strength I hope they bring to it.

Can't wait to meet up with both my father and the father of my children this coming weekend.

From Erin:

Around 9 o’clock one spring evening my freshman year at BYU, all of the melancholy and homesickness that I’d been having too much fun to pay attention to all semester showed up and threatened to overwhelm me.  All of a sudden the shine wore off my new friends, off the thrill of living on my own, and all I wanted in the whole world was to hear my parents’ voices.
Choked up in the throat, tears pricking the corners of my eyes, I picked up the phone and dialed home.  The phone only rang a couple of times before it was picked up and I heard Dad’s voice.  Immediately I knew I’d woken him up.
“Hello?” he said.  This was in the day before caller ID.
“Daddy?” I said, trying not to burst into tears.  “Hey, it’s Erin.”  I was trying to sound nonchalant, like I’d just called to chat.
“Erin,” he said.  “Do you know what time it is?”
“Well, no, I think my clock is under a pile of clothes somewhere…”
“Find it.  I’ll wait,” he said. I found it.  “What does it say?” he asked.
Nine o’clock,” I said.  “It’s not that late.”
I can hear the forced patience in his voice today.  “Now.  Add two hours to that, to account for the fact that we’re two time zones ahead of you, and then add an hour for the time change.  What time is it now?”
Gulp.  “Midnight,” I said quietly.
“Yes,” he said, “Now what was it you called about?”
Again this evening, on Fathers’ Day, I find the sunlight fading, and Dad several time zones ahead of me.  Again, the time has gotten away from me.  The things that he taught me are important-family time, church, the concerns of my children-have jostled for my attention until I find myself without the time to call.  Or, at least, I’ve learned my lesson now, and wouldn’t call this late.
Parents, and fathers in particular, carry a pretty serious burden, I’ve come to realize.  When a child comes to earth, he’s forgotten his heavenly parents, and has to rebuild a relationship with them bit by bit throughout his life.  The relationship we have with our parents teaches us what it’s like to have a relationship with our Heavenly Father.  They’re mortal, and prone to making mistakes, it’s true, but among the gravel of earthly relationships, there are little gemstones of insight into our identity as children of God.  He always listened.  He guided me to making my own decisions.  He loves me, no matter what.
I wonder, sometimes, whether the general confusion about fathers in today’s world is caused by the confusion over religion, or whether it’s the other way around.  There’s this huge debate over whether fathers are even necessary in a child’s life, whether they’re dispensable altogether.  But if a father is a child’s first introduction to the nature of God, how can he be absent?  His presence is crucial to a whole life.
So I don’t think I’m being grandiose when I say that the way that I love my Heavenly Father is influenced, was built and helped to grow, by the way that I love my earthly father.  And if I know anything in the world, any solid thing that I can build on, that I can return to and start over when things get confused or hard, it is that my father loves me.  Also, that if anyone loves me more than he does, it has to be because he’s the Father of my spirit as well.
Because that night, when all the desperation and loneliness built up inside of me, and I picked up the phone, even though it was midnight, Daddy hung on the phone and listened to me.  When I asked about the weather and work and told him about my dorm room, but all I really wanted to say was, I’m so miserable, and so far from home, and I miss you so badly, and I know I haven’t called in forever but suddenly I needed to, at midnight, he understood and took it all in, and told me he loved me and that he’d be there when I needed to call again.
Now, as a parent myself, I’m keenly aware of how bumbling we so often feel, and so grateful for the grace that means that sometimes our children can learn lessons that we were far from being any good at teaching.  I know that parents are often instruments, used to teach lessons that are larger than we are, that sometimes we don’t even ever know were being taught.  But I’m grateful for parents that were willing to stand in that place for me, and try hard to be righteous, and love me just as hard as they could, so that I could learn those lessons and become the person I am, and the person I’ll eventually end up being.
Sometimes, when I’ve ruined everything, or lost everything, or everything is so confused, I think of that night I called Daddy at midnight.  I lock myself in the bathroom, hit the bathmat on my knees, and pray.  I pour it all out and he listens.  And even though my voice says Heavenly Father, my soul says Daddy.
Happy Fathers’ Day, Dad.  Thank you.


  1. Wow, that was beautiful. And I'm glad your house is ok...

  2. Thank you for the compliment, Marlowe. Happy late Fathers' Day!