*My Dad has been asked to officiate SO MANY weddings. When I was little, Dad and I were kind of a package deal--one preacher with a flower girl side kick. I really liked having a fancy dress and being a part of such a grown-up occasion that my Dad had an important role in. We always took a picture together before-hand and I liked standing on a stool so I would be taller. Somehow it all made me feel VERY grown-up.
*My Dad said yes to playing board games, card games and working jigsaw puzzles with me. I had a favorite Puff the Magic Dragon puzzle that he happily worked with me (it had about 8 pieces—I was 2!) over and over and I have many memories of backgammon games on the floor of our den.
*Dad watched sports on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Golf, basketball, football, any kind of racing…he loves any and all sports and loved watching games, meets or matches. When I am working or feeling homesick or just need background noise for comfort, I always find some type of sports channel. It was the soundtrack of most of my childhood weekends.
*Dad likes to eat saltine crackers crushed in milk. I tried and tried to like this snack with him but I failed completely. Still, it gives me a warm feeling to think of dad eating this particular snack while we watched golf on a Saturday afternoon.
*My Dad loves Westerns. They are the books he reads and the movies he most enjoys.
*Dad rarely got worked up about life. I needed this in a Dad. I have always been a fairly anxious person and Dad’s ‘roll with the punches’ spirit comforted me deeply all throughout my life. He has consistently remained one of my favorite people to be around.
*Dad is funny. He makes funny faces, tells funny stories, makes up funny names and is always ready to laugh. His best friends are always some of the very funniest people. He honors humor.
*My Dad’s easygoing nature is a delight for everyone but when he dislikes something it is definitive and non-negotiable. His list of dislikes would include: pineapple, pumpkin pie, any and all shopping, plumbing.
*My Dad is patient. Living in a house of all girls he was outnumbered but weathered it well. We persistently told him what he could and couldn't wear, what to eat, and what NOT to say from the pulpit on Sunday. (What NOT to say from the pulpit: embarrassing stories about us and the word ‘maggot’—not ever. The end.)
*My Dad can talk to anyone. And he does. All the time.
*Dad always runs into someone he knows. Restaurants, the grocery store, churches in another town, the stage of riverboat cruises:) …my Dad can find an old friend (or make a new one) at any time and in any venue.
*My Dad can sing. I have mentioned this before but it bears repeating. Singing, guitar playing and music are my Dad. His singing soothes me deeply.
*My eighth grade year was the worst. In the middle of it I had a ‘falling out’ with a dear friend and in the aftermath I camped out on our couch in our den and determined in my head that I would never face the outside world again. It was a very rational time in my life. My parents let me stew for a bit, but it was Dad who eventually sat down next to me and made me talk. He was good at it. I remember the moment well because I felt equal parts annoyed and relieved. I really didn’t want to talk about it, but I was SO grateful he cared enough to try to hear me. Two things: In our conversation that day Dad encouraged me to write out all the stuff I couldn’t speak. I still practice this technique today and I have a completed book manuscript because of it. And second, I was not a willing participant in that conversation but Dad persevered in love. I needed him to do that. I think about this all the time as I parent my own teenagers.
*It is difficult to tell stories from my childhood specifically about my Dad and not also include my Mom. They were a team when it came to parenting. I didn’t always like it, but really, really it was a deep and abiding comfort that they stood together. Dad was very committed to this teamwork and to honoring Mom. This shaped me in very good, very foundational ways. I am so grateful.
*My Dad obeys God because of love. He found Jesus in his broken places and the saving that followed compelled my Dad to a life of proclaiming the love that embraced him first and at his worst. This testimony that I have heard Dad speak repeatedly would change more of the world than he ever imagined. I know it forever impacted my own.
*My Dad loves Christ’s church. He has weathered many storms at the hands of Jesus' followers (ministry is a tough job most of the time) but he stays in it with dedication and hope. I am very proud of the way my Dad leads and serves. It’s not just a job to him. It is his heart and his life.
*Dad knew I would marry Jeff Cash before I knew I would marry Jeff Cash. He also knew I was going to live in Africa. He said that he ‘heard it in my voice’ the first time I spoke of Kenya and Jeff.
*It remains deeply comforting to have a Dad that can so accurately ‘hear it in my voice.’
I've said it before and I'll say it again--when it comes to Dads, I hit the jackpot.
For all this and more, Pops, thank you.
I love you more than words could ever say.