Thursday, December 26, 2013

Day of Gratitude #24 - Twenty-one years

Twenty-one years ago today, on a bitter cold November afternoon my father died. I was sixteen years old. It was unexpected and tragic and changed my world forever. He was complex, creative, resourceful and hard working. He called me "Popsicle Parsnips" and always jingled the coins in his pockets when he walked. I think he wore brown polyester pants and a white button down shirt almost everyday. He always sang in the church choir and usually had the solo at Christmas. In his early twenties, he lived in Germany and loved riding a motorized scooter far faster than he should have. He loved taking photographs. He WAS the audio visual nerd of his high school and the best part is he did not care. One of my earliest memories is of my Dad pushing me on a swing. He pushed me for hours....forward....forward....always swinging forward. I remember the sun shining so bright that I needed to squint. I remember asking him to push me higher and higher and laughing. It was idyllic happiness...a perfect scene and one that perhaps is clouded by both time and nostalgia.

About seven years ago, while sifting through a box of childhood photos and school papers I found a crayon drawing of a big round yellow sun, some bright green lines and loops for grass and a little girl with yellow hair sitting on a swing set. Next to the swings, I drew a stick figure Dad carefully standing watch. The three letters of my name are scratched on the back side of this construction paper masterpiece. This childhood treasure is now framed and has hung on my wall ever since. 

About one month ago, I attended the funeral for Burke's grandmother. One of the speakers said something I will never forget.... He said that no matter the age, loosing a parent can be difficult but that because the bond between parent and child is so strong they can often guide and love from the other side. It's been far more than just twenty-one years since I was that little girl with yellow hair squeezing with delight on a swing set. Twenty-one years today. I'm forever grateful that it does not take much for me to realize my Dad has carefully stood watch and lovingly pushed me forward....forward...always forward. One of my favorite quotes is, "the future is as bright as our faith." I'm grateful that I believe in life after death. I'm grateful for my parents whose combined and individual love and support have made all of the difference in my life. I feel blessed when I look towards the future and sometimes I have to squint's forward...forward...always forward...

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