8 years ago today, we held my daddy’s Celebration of Life party. As I look back, it was a wonderful day with so many friends and family coming together to remember a really great guy. It seems like so long ago, but then at times, just like it was yesterday. I wanted to share this once again, so that it is officially on my blog and not just Facebook. Here we go……
I have had very few Heroes in my life. My dad was the first one.
Now, what defines a Hero to me?
- A man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities (yes, I was his lil princess)
- A person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal.
My dad has been a Hero to many through the years, emulating God the Father to the Fatherless. People with broken families, or where the father had abandoned them were drawn to my dad. It was amazing to watch. The Holy Spirit in him was a magnet to them. Though he was a big man, his heart was tender, he always listened first and he was always ready to jump in when needed. And he always did. Of course along with the broken kids, came the broken parents. He was always trying to keep tires on one lady’s car and we would anonymously leave food packages at other houses.
New International Reader’s Version (NIRV)
5 God is in his holy temple. He is a father to those whose fathers have died. He takes care of women whose husbands have died. 6 God gives lonely people a family. He sets prisoners free, and they go out singing.
Most don’t know, but growing up in our house was quite musical. Not professionally, but relationally. Friends would just drop in for a visit and refreshments, and a jam session would break out. Then some other friends would run home and get their guitars and it was a wonderful evening of laughing, remembering, singing… and enjoying.
How many nights I went to bed with 3 very distinct thoughts:
- I wished that old Shep the dog had lived
- I wished that Clementine would have taken swimming lessons; I mean really, I conquered my fear of the water after taking beginners swimming lessons for 4 times, she could too!
- And lastly, I hoped that those Ghost Riders in the Sky stayed out of my dreams that night.
Daddy usually played Mountain Railway and Amazing Grace as mom put us to bed those nights, because we were still so young and couldn’t keep our eyes open any longer. Then as I drifted off to sleep I could her Uncle Jimmy Whittach (Witt-Ick) and Daddy singing in the distance… lulling me off to the Land of Nod.
I was not a very good harmony singer and that disturbed me. In High School, my dad would record my part onto a tape player so that I could memorize it. That kicked it in and he taught me how to hear all the parts with one strum of the chord. He was amazing that way. And ever patient too. It took quite a while.
When we were all finally Born Again and helping to pioneer Freedom Chapel in Cleveland, I was the Music Minister and Daddy was Head Deacon and he was always there to sing a special song with me when the occasion called for it. He either played his 4 string harmony guitar which I have here today, or he would play my harmony banjo, and I would play the 6 stringer. The most fun time was the ONE when we included my mother ~ She did great, ~~only improvised, ~~ and actually made it better and funnier!!!
I remember times at home where a song would bust loose on the TV or Stereo and then next thing we knew… the whole family was up dancing around acting silly. I loved going to weddings to watch my parents jitterbug together, you could see the cares of the world drop away as he would spin her around… Or our Christmas Parties at the house on Stickney… Songs, dancing, food, friends…
Then for Daddy’s last week and a half, I had the honor of singing and dancing “My Lil Buttercup” at the hospital for him. We had to wear special yellow gowns and blue gloves to protect him, and it just made us all laugh. And we all needed to laugh.
The only way I know to finish this up is with the lyrics to a song that I have held dearly in my heart for years that reminds me of my Daddy… please listen closely to the words and you will see a glimpse of that amazing man…
I remember Daddy’s hands, folded silently in prayer And reaching out to hold me, when I had a nightmare You could read quite a story, in the calluses and lines Years of work and worry had left their mark behind
I remember Daddy’s hands, how they held my Mama tight And patted my back, for something done right There are things that I’ve forgotten, that I loved about the man But I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands
I remember Daddy’s hands, working ’til they bled Sacrificed unselfishly, just to keep us all fed If I could do things over, I’d live my life again And never take for granted the love in Daddy’s hands
Daddy’s hands were soft and kind when I was cryin’ Daddy’s hands, were hard as steel when I’d done wrong Daddy’s hands, weren’t always gentle But I’ve come to understand There was always love in Daddy’s hands
With All My Love Daddy…. I miss you terribly.. Bye for Now,
Please take good care of my lil Hannah until I get there and tackle you both with hugs…
…from Christine, your Lil Princess