I woke up this morning thinking about Father’s Day, and how I needed to send my dad a text saying “Happy Father’s Day!” Maybe I’d even attach the emoticon with the wink blowing a kiss. But I haven’t done that yet. Somehow, today, that didn’t seem like it would be good enough.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about a story that involves one of my very best friends from high school and college. I remember spending the night at her house on Saturday nights. On Sunday morning when I was packing my things to go back home, her mom and stepdad would ask her, “You want to go to church?”
That was it. I’d watch their faces fall with disappointment and she’d run back in the house. Finally, I said, “You ought to go with them. Just once. I think it’d make them really happy.”
“No way,” she said. “If I walk in that church the holy water will burn me, and I’ll probably kill the priest with my confession.”
I’m not Catholic. Nor am I very religious at all, but I could not imagine what in the world my sweet friend, who I absolutely adored, could have done to feel so guilty about.
“Did you kill somebody?”
“Why do you believe the holy water will burn you and the priest will fall over dead? That makes no sense to me.”
She took a deep breath and said, “I flip off Christ.”
I couldn’t hide my shock. Whatever it was I thought she was going to say, it wasn’t that.
“You know that picture of Jesus at my Dad’s house by the front door? It’s that picture. I give Christ the bird as I’m walking out the door. Sometimes I give it a double-fisted two birds.”
“Why?” I was totally intrigued and still in complete shock.
“Because I always ask my daddy, ‘Who do you love?’ And he always says, ‘Jesus first.'” Her gorgeous blue eyes filled with tears, and she said, “Why can’t he just say me?”
I wanted to cry, but in my characteristic way, I said, “You ought to flip your dad off.”
I couldn’t stop thinking about that conversation with her. It’s stayed with me through the years. Probably because I’ve had my own times where I’ve felt like flipping off Christ, but it took me a while to understand where she was coming from.
I would never ask my dad, “Who do you love?” I just wouldn’t. I never needed to ask. I know who he loves. He loves me. He loves Holly. He loves Hunter. (The favorite.) He loves my mom. He loves all of us fiercely. Growing up, I knew I could disappoint him or make him angry, (He has a terrible temper.) but there was nothing I could do that would make him stop loving me. As I’ve grown older, I realize this is one aspect of my life that is “lucky.” I hate that word. But I am fortunate to have a mom and dad like mine. Holly and Hunter? They’re the icing on the cake.
I hope I continue his legacy and my children always feel fiercely loved.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!