Today’s been six months since my dad did his fly up to heaven.
I don’t know why, but six months on anything seems like it’s important.
I feel like the wound of losing my dad isn’t so raw, but yet, some days something will happen or a memory will surface and the wound opens up again.
This year is full of “firsts”.
First Christmas. First Birthday’s. First Father’s Day.
I’m about done with these firsts to be honest with you, but I know they must come and it’s part of the process.
So with Father’s Day around the corner and this six month milestone….I am feeling it.
My dad wasn’t so big on special days that involved him. We always tried to make a big deal about his birthday or Father’s Day, but often he would just say, “Well thanks for this gift, but you shouldn’t have.” It wasn’t a rude way, just he wasn’t a man that liked to be fussed over.
I remember the summer of 2000 standing at a board full of make shift phones in Garden Valley, Texas. Kev and I were gearing up to lead our first short term trip to Botswana with Teen Mania. It was HOT, I was tired from training and honestly a little scared to be going out of the country the first time. That Father’s Day, the phones were especially busy as we all made calls to our dads to wish them Happy Father’s Day.
My dad answered the phone and the conversation went as followed……
Me: Hey Dad! It’s sis, can you hear me? There are lots of people around me…..we’re on these crazy make shift phones mounted on a huge wall of wood…it’s pretty funny. Dad I just wanted to wish you Happy Father’s Day though.
Dad: Yes sis, I can hear you. Thanks. Are you and Kevin okay?
Me: Yup, dad we’re both okay. It’s really hot and I am really tired, but we’re okay.
Me: We leave for Botswana in a few days and it’s ALOT of travel dad…bus trips and long airplane trips and then a bus trip from South Africa into Botswana. It sounds intense and I’m a little nervous Dad. I don’t know if I am really ready for this!
Dad: You’ll be fine sis. Kev’s there with you, you’ll be fine. You’re mom’s here, do you want to talk to her?
Me: Sure dad. Happy Father’s Day. I love you dad.
Dad: Love you too sis. You be careful.Tell Kev hello. Here’s your mom…..
This was a normal conversation…….short, sweet and to the point. My dad didn’t like to talk on the phone and as soon as the conversation went anywhere where lots of words were needed…..”Here’s your mom.” ha!
But phone conversations with dad, while brief, always made me know that he was needing to know if I was okay and always ended in a I love you and be careful. What I didn’t realize till later in my adult life was that my dad was turning into a softy. I am sure my saying, “Dad I’m a little nervous about going to Africa…” probably left him feeling like….”Hello!!! Me too! Come back!!!” but he wouldn’t have ever said it.
When we moved to Botswana full time in 2004, the conversation the night before we left on the phone was much more brief and I could hear the crack in his voice as he said “I love you…be careful sis.”
My dad wasn’t a man of many words, but we always knew where we stood with him. We were his girls and he loved us with a fierce love.
The night my dad went into the hospital in Springfield was an especially hard night, but once he was settled and had some morphine running thru his veins, he was relaxed. My mom crashed in an hospital recliner and I pulled up my chair to dad’s bedside and for the first time in 13 years….we talked. I blame the morphine for lowering his walls and the conversation flowed free…..and it wasn’t a deep conversation (that would come a few days later) but it was a daughter and her dad shooting the breeze.
Those 11 days in the hospital were hard, but that particular night was a gift. We watched TV together and just like when I was a little girl he said, “Sis you better go get ready for bed…you look tired too.” I went out and washed my faced up in the ward bathroom and brushed my teeth feeling grateful that dad was doing better, but not sure what lay ahead the next days. It wasn’t long after I returned when they moved my dad to ICU and as my dad said, “Things are going to get really interesting….” and they did for sure.
I wish that I could pick up the phone and have one of those brief conversations with my dad again, but this side of heaven, I just have to remember the memories and be thankful for all the 38 years I had him.
To all of you celebrating this Father’s Day without your dad…..I’m there with you…still learning to navigate these waters.
Sarah Witt, mom of 3 who just happens to be raising her family on the mission field serving God with her husband in Botswana. She is a Revelation Wellness instructor in Botswana and seeing God change the lives of women. Learn more about her and Kevin at Wild Acacia.
(Photo credit: https://www.lifewire.com/what-is-a-dect-phone-3426323)