a corsage of 3 friendly peachy roses

Letting Dad be Dad,
and God my Heavenly Father

I've noticed that brothers and sisters, children of the same father, can have totally different perspectives and relationships with their dad. These can range from great respect, and almost reverence when they speak to him, to aloofness and treating him as an old imbecile to be put into an institution. (I'm not saying this whole range is in our family, but we do have different views).

There are those that go to show off their children and new purchases to their father, talking on the one hand as if they want to keep him informed, but really hoping for a word of approval and acceptance from him.

I know of some who use their dad as a free babysitter, but he is only allowed to come over during those babysitting hours. Otherwise he is suppose to leave them alone to live their own lives. (The Dad I'm thinking of gets his heart broken regularly every week).

There are individuals who have had terrible experiences at the hands of their father, so it is easier to understand how they have problems celebrating Father's Day.

I cannot say that I had such bad experiences, but from my early teens I was able to spot my Dad's short-comings. He lacked education and tact, and he was quite slow when it came to figuring out the cost of a project or which was a better deal, when looking for a car, and so on. Mom tended to do a lot of his thinking for him. She told him what to do. That all seemed somehow incorrect to me. I wished he would speak up and be a man and a leader in the home, someone who would make wise decisions for us all.

After a while I realized that this wasn't going to happen. It wasn't laziness on his part. He could tackle physical work like a strong ox. I even considered that perhaps he just needed an education; if only he could afford to go to school and get smart. But I had to concede that Dad simply was not able to handle big concepts. Before I graduated from high school I could talk circles around him.

Well, if I couldn't ask him for guidance or help, I'd go independent. After graduation I found myself a job in the city, bought a car, and became responsible for my own life and decisions. When panicked or afraid, I turned to the Lord God, my true Father. One who was perfect, and always had time for me.

The time came when God, wisely, gently, patiently steered me into pondering and finally deciding to move home to look after my parents in their old age. Over two years of praying, vacations home to check things out, and insisting on clear guidance from my Heavenly Father, I finally came to accept that I needed to go home and deal with my attitudes toward my parents.

Twelve years away had matured me some, and I saw and understood my parents in a new way. I saw how Dad's short-comings irked and troubled mom more than she had ever let on. He, on the other hand, stood helplessly by, through her many illnesses and spells in the hospital, and doctor appointments. He felt great pity and compassion, but was overwhelmed as to how best to help her. When I moved in, I took charge of Mom's health situation, and that freed Dad up to go for walks, collect bottles in the ditches, putter in his workshop, where he took small motors apart and fixed them. He also did shoe repair when people brought something to the door they couldn't fix.

I was a little amazed, and one day commented, "Hmm, so I must've got my creative streak from you, eh?"

He said, "Are you swearing at me?"

I realized at that point, that even with a lack of education and motivation to be in charge, he did have an innate skill and gift for figuring out how things were made and how to fix them. I began to promote and compliment him on these things, and he began to shine.

The more I showed kindness and encouraged him in his little hobbies, the more he glowed. He'd needed affirmation for a long time. By then I was content to let God be my Heavenly Father, and Dad could be just Dad. He didn't have to prove anything to me any more.

Both of us seemed to treat Mom and caring for her as the main reason we were on earth. When I took her to the doctor, or went to visit her in the hosptial, he came along for the ride. But 14 years later, when she died after a drawn out illness where her organs slowly shut down, I decided to focus my attention on Dad. He'd been a tag-along for so long. Now it was time he got to do some things he could enjoy.

It turned out that it didn't take much to please him. I took him on a trip to visit his side of the family, his cousins, and to see a few things along the way. That thrilled him. I took him shopping in the city, and simply decided that it would no longer matter that I had him trailing behind me, and when I lost him in the stores, I would have to circle around all the aisles until I found him again. He loved nothing better than to go shopping, except that his knees wanted to buckle under him. He took a cane and likes to lean on a shopping cart.

He loved it when visitors came and he got to tell his old stories of growing up, and what he did, and to show off his hobby projects, which were mainly spinning and knitting with alpaca fibre his last year.

As Father's Day comes up, I've been thinking; giving up my expectations of what a father should be like, and letting Dad be who he was, while looking to God to be my true Father, - this all worked out to be a perfect blessing for me. Since he didn't need nursing care, and we both needed to eat at regular intervals, and I would have to clean house once a week even if I lived alone, I was able to meet his needs, while having lots of hours free to work on my internet businesses, and writing projects. We would go shopping in the city when we could think of at least two to three reasons to go, and when I could fit it into my own agenda. God really worked this out to a wonderfully balanced blessing.

I wish everyone who has an imperfect father could get such a relationship going too! It is so freeing and comfortable.

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Ruth Marlene Friesen

Ruth Marlene Friesen
The Responsible One

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Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada