Saturday, June 15, 2013

Dear Daddy

I was reading over some writing I had done last year when my dad got sick to see if I want to share it as part of my sermon tomorrow on Father's Day. I think I will -- hopefully with minimal tears, please!

I realized that I quite like some of the writing that I did after he passed away, and why didn't I keep up with it? But anyway, maybe I'll try to revive some of that.

For now, here is last year's first writing that I did after he was diagnosed, which I shared with him on the day he was admitted to the hospital for his first round of chemo.

March 22, 2012

Dear Daddy,
I’ve decided to do some writing to you while you’re battling this latest fight that life has set before you. I worry that perhaps the chemo will sap your energy to the point where you’ll be mostly drowsy all the time, and even that at some point we might not be able to come see you if your immunity is too low. And I find that there are so many things that I want to say to you, lessons I want to thank you for teaching me, moments that I remember both from childhood and from recent years, and I don’t want to miss my chance to tell you about them. Not because I feel that you won’t make it through this, but because, as you said about Mom’s 63rd birthday party, why not celebrate the people that you love while they are here to enjoy it? I don’t want to be sharing these memories with other people after you’ve died (in hopefully 40 years), I want to share them with you now.

Hopefully this will be the first of a series of letters, though sometimes I know I have lofty ambitions for series-types of things and I don’t follow through. But at least I will set down some memories now:

One that I think is so important is the memory of eating pizza with you at Angelina’s Pizza in Lancaster back when I was first entertaining the notion of going to seminary. If I remember correctly, I hadn’t yet applied, but we stopped by the seminary to look around and go to the book store. I think this was the time when you tried to buy all the books that were reserved for students enrolled in classes. The conversation with Matt (who was working at the bookstore, now is pastoring to the west of us) went something like this:

Brad: “Oh, I know this author” [picking up book as if to purchase]
Matt: “No, sir, you can’t buy that book, that’s reserved for class?”
Brad: “What about this one?”
Matt: “No”
Brad: “What about this one?”
Matt: “No”
Brad: “What about this one?”
Matt: “No” and so forth...

But all kidding aside, I remember sitting with you, eating pizza, and feeling as though just talking to you and sharing a meal, listening to stories probably about people you knew, or Trinity, or something to do with Grandma and Grandpa or growing up, I felt connected to the world in a deeper way than I’d felt in a long time. Deeper than working at Performance Personnel, deeper than studying English Literature at York College, deeper than thinking only about Friday and the weekend as I had grown accustomed to doing. I wanted to have a life that ran deep like yours. I wanted to do something with my life that would connect me to people in a way beyond what I was experiencing then. I wanted to be able to have people talk to me and feel as though there was a depth there, that I could hear anything that had to tell me, that I could really listen and remember, that I could reframe their ideas into stories, the way that you do.

I hope and pray that people feel that way about me now, and if they do, it is because you inspired me to develop that depth within myself, to seek to understand and learn more about people, to ask questions and be curious about people and their backgrounds and their stories, instead of filling up space in the conversation just yammering about myself.

I don’t long for a deeper life anymore. I realized that the other day. I know I can continually go deeper, and that life is a cycle and so I may have periods of shallowness, or times when I lose my way, or times when I don’t prioritize the right stuff. But I do feel at this time that there is a depth to my life and my interactions that I am very grateful for. I truly do not believe that I would have sought this amount of depth and authenticity and truth in my life if I had not had you for an example.

Thank you.

With the love of a thousand loves (I say this to the kids all the time),

1 comment:

terryb61 said...

A fine, fine remembrance of your father.

I still remember, after I returned to seminary following my father's death, how you were the first person not from my class who reached out to me. (In the refectory.) That meant a great deal to me.

This October will mark ten years since his passing. I can offer you that the grieving/pain will lessen over time, but the loss never goes away. Peace to to your father, and blessings multifold to you and your family.