Sunday, June 19, 2011
It's Father's Day. We celebrated the father of my children today ... It's not easy to be a dad to five very dynamic individuals. He has been a lot more versatile then he might have preferred to be. He's still right in the middle of being a great dad.
There was a small vase of flowers on the dining room table today. I like having cut flowers in the house, and make an effort to keep some on the table ... an orchid in the den and a small bunch of cut flowers in the dining room ... that's what I like. I'm not good with indoor plants ... . Those particular flowers on the table today were delivered on Monday. It's fairly routine for one of my daughters to receive a delivery like that ... exciting and fun ... . Well, that delivery was for me! Big treat! Big surprise! You'll never guess who from ... from the daughter of that older lady who I had the pleasure of taking up last week ... and the sweetest note ever was enclosed. I'll load up a photo when I get more proficient at that new trick. I want to remember this bouquet ... yellow roses.
I think of my Dad when I see flowers in water sitting on the table where we can enjoy them. My dad liked to garden. He did a lot of his thinking out in the yard ... lots of times I'd find him sitting out in the dark after a day of working in the yard ... he'd be looking at stars ... a glass of sweet tea at hand ... with the smell of freshly cut grass still lingering in the air while the cicadas called to one another. I miss him still. My dad was of Welsh descent ... black hair that became salt and pepper in his forties ... . It would have been a wonderful thing to watch it go all white. He was dark complected with surprising light blue eyes ... the color of blue that you see right above the clouds on very cold days ... icy blue. I think that is one of the very best gifts that my Father gave me ... his eyes. The ability to see things with his eyes ...
When my brother died ... Well, I had a hard time with it. I was sixteen ... he'd been my best friend my whole life. I wasn't big enough to absorb the shock of it ... mad at God ... really mad ... hateful hurting mad. I asked my dad that question ... "Where was God when my brother died? Why did the man who ran his eighteen wheeler through two lanes and right through my brother's life ... why did he get to live ... why did my brother have to die?"
My dad said, "I don't know." He was quiet for a moment before he said it again ... "I just don't know." He got up and said let's walk, and he reached for his little garden clippers. I didn't want to walk around the garden ... I remember my reticence ... freaking stupid flowers. I got up and followed him though.
I remember him saying, "We're going to put some flowers on the table ... You're going to help ... which one?" I remember I was pissed. My brother's dead and we're out here getting flowers for the table just like nothing happened ...
"Oh, excellent choice." he said as he snipped, "Which one next?"
I pointed, "Some of those."
"This one?" he asked gently reaching in to the cluster.
"These? Would these be pretty?" Marigolds stink ... He knows I don't like marigolds.
"No Daddy, those stink."
"Oh yeah, we don't want any stinkers ... How 'bout these?" Yellow roses. He only clips them when they're about done ... He's particular about his roses. Our backyard was the best smelling place in my world.
"Can we clip some buds?" He smiles ... He knows I like to watch then open up.
... This went on for a while, it was something he and I did together. We always had flowers from the garden on the table. He'd send me in the house with a handful of pretty flowers ... I would arrange them just so ... picking out a vase ... dissolving a bayer aspirin in the water ...sometimes I'd go back outside for just one more ... or maybe some fern.
Daddy came in about the time I sat the vase on the table.
He would almost invariably say something like "Perfect ...just right." I remember him not saying that that day. Instead he looked at me ... and he smiled ... a sad smile that squeezed a tear out of his blue eyes ... and he asked me "How do you choose which flowers to cut ... which flowers will come inside to sit on the table?"
I just looked at him.
"Do I have the right to tell God which flowers he may or may not pick as He walks through His garden? Is it right for Him to choose which ones?" My daddy asked me that ... and I just looked at him. "Your brother is probably the center piece in God's bouquet today. The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away ... Blessed be the name of the Lord."
I would like to say that was a big help that day. It wasn't. I actually felt kind of tricked by my dad that day. But over time ... well, I cherish the sweetness. That flower was his boy. I've never known a man who loved his children more tenderly then my dad loved us. My brother's death was very hard on my dad. He died five years later, almost to the day ... and he never really recovered from that loss, but he did genuinely mean it when he said, "Blessed be the name of the Lord."
I was blessed to have him for my father ... . The flowers on the table remind me of him, and I smile.