My father lost his battle with cancer on May 28th, 1999. Each memorial day, while remembering those who have given their lives in service to our country, I am also thinking of the loss of my dad. I thank God for giving me such an amazing father, but it is not the anniversary of his passing that shakes my heart. It is in the living of life that his memory shows up and I miss him most of all.
Recently, I had an experience with a friend of mine’s little girl that continues to play in my mind and fill my heart with thoughts of my dad. Morgan is the youngest of four beautiful little girls. Their daddy is deployed in Afghanistan. When her mom asked me if I could come over to hang out with Morgan so she could do some work in the yard, I jumped at the chance to spend time with her. I knew It would be fun.
Morgan and I began our play date by pushing her little toy shopping cart, packed with my purse, cell phone and some flowers she picked, up and down her driveway. Eventually I found myself sitting in the middle of a sidewalk, at her direction of course, with our legs straight out before us watching for passing cars. We sat, and sat, and sat some more. Every car that passed was waved to and its color discussed. Busses were the best of course, but trucks were an easy second in terms of bringing a smile to her face. We sat and waved to strangers who kindly waved back. We talked about the leaves and flowers she had picked on our walk and she took pictures of the cars with my cell phone…well, attempted to get pictures…there are many photos of an empty street on my phone now. Before I knew it, her mom was done with her work and it was time for lunch.
When my son was little, he and my dad, Paw Paw, would walk down the street and sit at the corner. They would sit on the wood landscaping stumps that bordered the sidewalk and face the street. They would sit there for long periods of time, just the two of them. I often wondered what they talked about. I wondered what was so special about sitting by the street with Paw Paw. Now, thanks to Morgan, I think I know.
I am not usually good at just sitting and taking things in, but I have noticed I am getting better at it each passing year. It is probably a combination of getting older and actually having the luxury of time. My visit with Morgan showed me how precious just sitting can be. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time with her.
I had not realized it until then, but I have many memories of just sitting with my dad. I realize now that often the times I miss him most are when I am being still.
When I sit on our boat and watch the Ospreys swoop out over the water, I think how much he would have enjoyed it. When a summer rain fills the sky with flickers of lightning and soft thunder, I think of how much dad liked watching the storms while sitting in the garage. When I sit on the porch in the cool evening air, I think how much my dad would have liked to sit there too. While waiting for crab to take my bait, I think how much fun my dad would have had if he were there. Just this last weekend, as my husband and I joined friends on the bow of our boat to take in the beauty of the stars in the expansive sky, I just knew my dad could have laid and looked at those stars for hours too.
My dad knew the treasure of being still. In his stillness, we found the gift of his time and attention.
God waits to give us this same gift, all we need to do is be still.
“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him; …” Psalm 37:7a