Daddy was the changeless sun who warmed my life with the security of his love. He was always there, always loving me, always caring for me, even beyond memory.
When I was a four-pound preemie that the country doctor didn’t expect to be born alive, Daddy took his turn at night, after working all day, giving me a half ounce of sweetened water every 30 minutes so I wouldn’t become dehydrated in the sweltering heat of an Indiana summer. But, he remembered, I was an indifferent eater; after three or four sucks I would fall asleep, and Daddy would have to wake me up by thumping the soles of my feet.At the age of 2 I was in a hurry to be grown up. On a shopping trip to the shoe store downtown, I edged away from Mother and Daddy, pretending I was shopping all by myself. I rounded the corner of the display window, carefully considering each pair of shoes, as Mother and Daddy watched me through the glass.
Suddenly I looked up and realized I was alone. With a terrified gasp of “Da-a-a-dy!” I dashed down the street, Daddy in hot pursuit. Fortunately he caught me just as I reached the busy intersection, or in my panic I would have run right into the traffic.
In all the memory pictures of my childhood Daddy was always there: running along with a steadying hand as I wobbled down the street on my first bicycle; identifying the flock of purple finches in the tall spruce outside the living room window, or the downy woodpecker at the bird feeder, singing “The Bells of St. Mary’s” and “Ol’ Man River” in his pleasant baritone as I accompanied him on the piano.
On Sabbath afternoons Daddy and Mother took my brother and me on nature walks along Sligo Creek, helping us learn to recognize all the flowers and trees that grew in our part of the world. Or they read us stories about animals and missionary adventures. They frequently led out in our church’s youth activities.
Daddy often told me how proud he was of me: for getting good grades, for playing the piano, for helping around the house, or for anything else he could find to commend me for. It gave me something to live up to.
As I entered my teens, Mother went back to school. She was too busy to do much with us kids for several years, but Daddy never missed a piano recital or a school program. Daddy taught me to drive, and on my sixteenth birthday he took me to get my first driver’s license. Not knowing that parallel parking was part of the test, we had never practiced it. How proud Daddy was when I, by some stroke of luck, parked perfectly between the standards!
Daddy was a warm, outgoing man who never met a stranger. He had an exhaustless supply of jokes to fit any occasion. He enjoyed life and helped others enjoy it too. He was a lab technician, and I’m sure his jokes and teasing distracted many a patient from the painful needle pricks. A lifetime of night calls never made him too tired to do things with his family.
Daddy trusted me enough to offer me an after-school job in the hospital lab he was director of when I was in academy. My responsibilities were supposed to be cleaning pipettes, sterilizing test tubes, and performing some clerical duties. But he also taught me much of what he knew about how various tests were done, and what they indicated.
One of the best things Daddy did for me was to demonstrate his great love for my mother. Mother was not a “people person” like Daddy; in fact, she was something of an introvert. She was a perfectionist, and sometimes moody. But no matter what, she was always Daddy’s “little sweetheart,” and I think he was always as much in love with her as on the day they were married.
Because of Daddy it is easy for me to believe in a loving God as my heavenly Father. Daddy’s constant, unchanging love, the way he valued me, even when I made mistakes, rebelled, or disobeyed him, has helped me trust that God loves and forgives me, in spite of all the times I’ve ignored His plan for my life and messed up.
Daddy is my model for God.