It's no wonder I'm into beards. The first man I ever loved had one in my earliest years and the story goes that baby Aimee would grab onto it when needing his attention. Dad was fun, gentle, kind, and servant-hearted. He worked hard but he always made time for his kids and his wife. When Mike and I were little, we'd wrestle in the floor with him. We'd lie down on the green blanket and beg for him to make us into a "burrito". Then we required he drag us around the living room floor. He loved taking the family on expeditions to historical sites, some of which we enjoyed and some of which we found underwhelming. He took us hiking all over the Midwest. We complained about bugs, thirst, and tired legs but he somehow remained pretty pleasant. When I would whine that I was too tired to walk (hoping to be carried) he would say, "Run backward, Aimee, it will rest your legs."
As a gullible child, I would do it. "It's working, Daddy!" I'd tell him.
Though Dad always worked full-time and Mom spent much of my early life as a SAHM, Dad took his role of helpmate seriously. Just because he had a career outside of the home didn't mean he expected her to do everything. He helped with dishes, cooked some of our meals, changed diapers, took care of the lawn (until my brother was old enough to take over), and took over laundry duties 100% once Mom went back to work full-time. The way the two of them interacted made it clear that there was some deep mutual respect as well as appreciation. I can say with all honesty that I never once saw my parents argue. If you think about someone setting the bar high for what to look for in a future mate, my dad did that for sure.
When my little sister was two weeks old, she was admitted to the hospital with RSV. It was very serious and she was in an oxygen tent. I was only five years old and terrified that she was going to die. Mom was breastfeeding so she had to stay with the baby. I remember Dad tucking me in at night and us praying together for Laurel. What a good daddy he was to help me take my fears to God. Thankfully she made it through beautifully and just celebrated another adult birthday.
On Valentine's Day 2014 Dad's heart stopped beating and he woke in the presence of his Savior. At the age of 62 and with years of faithful service to the Lord behind, his time here was complete. We weren't ready to say goodbye but his body was done. The cancer, the chemo, and then Graft vs Host Disease had wrecked him. For the suffering to be over was merciful. All said and done, his diagnosis to death was only six months. It was kind of a whirlwind; so much to process in so little time-- especially when we were anticipating his physical healing/recovery and many more years together.
Dad loved to make music with his guitar. Sometimes he would play or sing at church, but it wasn't uncommon for him to do so in the living room at home. There's a song he sang fairly often when I was a kid called "Waiting" by Dallas Holm (1990). The chorus is as follows:
Lord I’m waiting/Lord I’m waiting And I’m not going to move Till I’m able to prove Your will Lord I’m waiting/Lord I’m waiting Listening for You with my heart
When I think about Dad, this song is precisely how he lived his life. He was a patient man, very contrary to my nature. He wasn't a perfect man, but his life did embody the gospel of Jesus. He loved others unconditionally. He was sacrificial and servant-hearted. When he messed up, he repented. With all that was within him, he wanted to honor the Lord. I count myself blessed to be called his daughter.