Monday, April 18, 2011

Where do you cry?

I've been blessed with a wonderful life. Great parents. Amazing friends. A terrific husband and a kid who blows me away with his talents, smarts and humor each and every day.

And don't forget TWO beautiful Golden Retrievers, a great job, good health, a roof over my head and food on our table.

But there are days when life sneaks up on you, reaches down and grabs your soul.

For me, it's thinking about my dad. I don't want to feel greedy; having so many blessings already. But there are days when I wish for just one more moment with my dad. One more opportunity to say "I love you." One more chance to talk about the Cubs or the Bearcats or some book we both read.

One more hug or phone call or card. Just to know he's there and thinking about me. Not from above. But down here. With me. With us.

And that's when tears sting my eyes. But I'm not a public crier. Feel free to shed tears in front of others, my friend. I'd never judge you. It shows we're human. That we feel. That we're capable of emotions our hearts can't always handle.

But for me? I'd rather take a hammer to the head. So I save mine for the shower. Where no one can see me. Where no one can hear me. I just let the tears fall, mix with the soapy water and let it all go down the drain.

Anyone else do that? Of course, they do.

Probably all the parents out there who've put in a full day of work (at home, at the office or a combination of both) then have family to wrangle, dinner to make, laundry to do, homework to grade and errands to run. Then fall into bed, exhausted, only to get up the next morning and do everything all over again.

We're tough. So we suck it up. Get things done. Then - when all is quiet - take a moment, cry it out and regroup.

My dad was a quiet guy who rarely wore his heart on his sleeve. That's why it was even more special when he surprised me with something I'd never expect. Like each Christmas when he'd take the money he'd carefully saved, having stashed it away in his den throughout the year, and buy everyone a gift without my mom's assistance.

One year, he gave me a plaque. It wasn't like anything he'd ever given me before, and it stole my breath at the time. And it stills does. Where it hangs in our kitchen, the last thing I see each day before I head out the door.

It reads:

I said a prayer for you today and know God must have heard.
I felt the answer in my heart although He spoke no word.

I didn't ask for wealth or fame, I knew you wouldn't mind,
I asked Him to send treasures of a far more lasting kind.

I asked that He'd be near you at the start of each new day,
to grant you health and blessings and friends to share the way.

I asked for happiness for you in all things great and small,
but it was for His loving care I prayed the most of all.
 (author, Frank Zamboni)

It's special because my dad was a private prayer kinda guy. He didn't quote Scripture. He didn't use examples from the Bible to teach life's lessons. He went to church each week, sat at the end of the pew, helped with the collection and went about his business. He served on the church council but, even then, you wouldn't know he was a God-fearing Christian. He was quiet with his faith. It was personal for him and rarely shared it outloud.

So I was extremely touched to learn what he prayed about. Me. Us. Our family.

I know I should be comforted that my dad's prayers don't have as far to go these days. And, in a way, I am. It's his reward for a life devoted to family, hard work and the enjoyment of the simpler things in life: a beautiful sunrise, the smell of a freshly mowed hayfield, time spent with family, the love of a good dog.

The sacrifices he made will always be with me as will be the example he and my mom set for us: Love most. Work hard. You don't need to have the best of everything because many people do without.

And laugh until it hurts. Because sometimes, that's all you can do.

But that doesn't mean I wouldn't treasure one more hug....

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