The Father Blessing

It has become my favorite picture of my Dad. The split second of the photograph coincided with his fleeting presence. His dementia had progressed so far that he wore a perpetual gaze like curios bewilderment … as if world and people around him made no sense at all. But surrounded by his family, headed out for a meal, some synapsis fired, and he was with us. Like a man suddenly appearing out of a dense bank of fog. Focus returned, eyes twinkled, the broad smile flashed … and just as quickly he faded back into the disconnectedness of his own mind. I whispered a “Thank You” to God for the gift of that instant.

My name was lost to him first; then the recognition of my face. He seemed mostly to live in a time before he had children. He was headed down a flight of stairs leading into the room where I was sitting. My Mom was whispering to him, “Go give your son a hug.” She never gave up trying to coax Dad back to the present. After several more of her quiet pleas, he said with exasperation, “I don’t know who you’re talking about.” Wanting to ameliorate the situation, I got out of my chair and walked toward them. I think it must have been something in the height difference created by the stairs … but suddenly there was recognition. He threw his arms open wide, stooped as if greeting a toddler and exclaimed, “There’s my boy!” That instant of belonging, of being claimed again by that fine man, was another gift from God. My father was a gift from God.

After that incident, we traveled from Kansas back up to Illinois where we were living. That Sunday, during the worship set, we sang these words …

I have a Father, He calls me His own

He’ll never leave me no matter where I go

He knows my name, He knows my every thought

He sees each tear that falls and He hears me when I call

As you might imagine, I quietly ‘lost it’ there in my pew. Tears of longing and loss rolled down my cheeks … my earthly father no longer knew my name. But in that same instant, my heart pounded with feelings of privilege and peace knowing that I belong irrevocably to Another Father. He calls me His own … He knows my name!
I hope you can hear in these stories the powerfully positive impact my earthly Dad had on my life. He was not perfect … but he was present. So, Happy Father’s Day! Thank you for staying in the lives of your children. God bless you … and where you feel you’ve failed, rest in the fact that “nothing can separate you from the love of God (your Father) that is in Christ Jesus or Lord.” Romans 8:39