Father’s Day, 15 years later

Published 6:54 am Sunday, June 15, 2014

Today marks the 15th Father’s Day I will have spent without my father.

It occurs to me now how long a period that represents, how many of my life’s events have come and gone without him here to enjoy them. Since Dad passed away in 1999, I’ve been married, I’ve bought my first house, I’ve become the editor of my hometown newspaper, I’ve acquired children and grandchildren, I’ve found a relationship with Jesus and I’ve had any number of interesting experiences that I’d love to have shared with him.

I’m not the type of person who is normally maudlin about such things. I know my Dad is in heaven, and I know I’ll see him again when the Lord calls me home, so I don’t spend much time these days at the cemetery grieving over his body.

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Dad would have wanted me to live my life well, to work hard and to grow in my relationship with Jesus, so I try to respect his memory by doing those things, by honoring my mother and by loving the people around me.

There are days when the loss seems fresh again and times when the memory of him is sharp and even painful in its suddenness. Sometimes, despite the passage of 15 years, it seems like he’s only been gone a short time.

There’s a constant tension between those two human perceptions of time. We experience the passage of decades one moment at a time, and only in retrospect do we realize just how much of that time has passed.

C.S. Lewis said something about this: “Humans are amphibians — half spirit and half animal. As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time.”

That thought gets to the heart of the tension. We were created, as Solomon wrote in Ecclesiastes, “with eternity in our hearts.” Yet we live as temporal beings, and the various things we do as part of living — working, loving, eating, sleeping and so on — occupy the moments of our lives and help keep us from focusing on what we have lost.

I miss my father, and there are days when I wish I could laugh as he cursed the day he picked up a golf club for the first time, days when I wish I could have seen him straddle the Harley-Davidson motorcycle he always threatened to buy when he retired, days when I wish I could see him with the kids that would now be his great-grandchildren.

And there are days like today, when I will go to the cemetery, spend a few minutes tidying up his grave and remembering how much he loved me and then leave in the secure knowledge that my Heavenly Father’s promise will one day be fulfilled, and I will be taken from this momentary life and brought into eternity with Him and with my dad.

But until then, my heart will go on singing. Until then, with joy I’ll carry on.