My Father’s Chair

Cleaning out a desk drawer, came across an essay I wrote for Dad last year. Thought I’d post it for my sibs. In case any of you were wondering upon reading it if I thought my dad perfect, the answer is no. But his imperfections seem to dim as the years pass and I am able to see more clearly his love for us and his faithfulness as a father.

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My Father’s Chair

Today I heard a song on the radio entitled, “My Father’s Chair”. The first verse speaks of the writer’s sadness as a child when he looked at his absent father’s empty chair. This song touched me because my father also had a favorite chair. Unlike the chair in the song, however, his chair was not empty. My dad was there: ever present, constant and faithful.

As I’ve talked to friends about their fathers and read about the experiences of so many with their dads, I’ve been struck by how few knew the security and stability I enjoyed. Many are those who never knew their dads or were abandoned by them during their childhood. Those with a father present often bore an equally deficient past, suffering verbal or physical abuse or the tragic devastation of sexual abuse. Some served under military-type commanders who barked orders but withheld approval. Perhaps most common but no less crippling are the those who agonized over a father’s indifference.

Unlike the unfortunate majority, I was favored in childhood to have a dad who spent his time at home with his family. One who joined in on the mealtime conversations; one who hugged, patted and kissed his kids. My father didn’t do drugs, party or drink. He wasn’t a workaholic who spent most of his time away from us. He didn’t assault or rail against us.

Instead, he worked hard and sacrificed for years to provide for his large brood. He attended hundreds of sports events. He was constant, always there. He shared his values and demonstrated them as well. His opinions and thoughts were strong and he wasn’t afraid to have a passionate discussion or defend an unpopular view. And he loved to laugh! He became a skilled storyteller with wonderful comedic timing.

I have an exemplary father. His merits are increasingly disclosed to me with the passing of time. He sheltered his children, providing a loving, safe environment for them to grow up in. I dare to believe that I resemble him somewhat in nature, personality, temperament and character. I relish a good laugh and delight in telling tales. I hold strong opinions and am not afraid to have a passionate discourse on them. Most of all, I love to read. Reading is the primary passion of my life and I learned to treasure books at my father’s feet.

A few years ago I had a dream about my Dad’s mother. In the dream, my sister and I sat at her feet listening to her words of wisdom for us. She told us how proud she was of us as women, mothers and grandmothers. I awoke felling gloomy and melancholy, but as the day progressed I experienced a gradually unfolding revelation. I didn’t know if the dream came from heaven or my own mind, but I understood the wisdom of the message, I loved Grandma, not because she accomplished amazing feats or earned fame or fortune, but because of her tender affection for me that she transmitted through song, touch, food, games and so much more. And so it is with me. I saw that my loving care for my children and grandchildren has worth and value. If I never accomplish another thing in this life, I will have lived well by loving well.

So too, with my father. He has lived his life well because he has loved well. The Bible says that children are a gift from the Lord, a reward from Him. With 9 children, 18 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren, He is mightily blessed! I know that when he gets to heaven he will hear those wonderful words, “well done”, that he will receive the approval and applause of heaven. This is certain. Yet, I hope he realizes that he also has the approval and applause of his children. I trust he is aware of our admiration and gratitude. He truly is our beloved archetype and the champion of my heart for all time.

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