The Love of My Fathers
If you read Shawna’s Poem yesterday, you know a little of her life story. Today she unfolds a more of her legacy for us as she remembers her dad. There’s something you should know – her dad was my friend. We met when I was fifteen and I think he was twelve. He was already in love with Shawna’s mom. It’s a story that I might tell someday in a novel because it involves AWANA’S, toothpaste, and young love. If you’ve read Under His Wings, the story titled The Brown Thrashers is about Shawna’s family. I was thinking about heaven the other day and all those I know who have here for there and when I got to thinking about Chuck I grinned. I’m pretty sure heaven is a much funnier place now that he’s there. Welcome back, Shawna – I love this story because you tell his story and yours so well.
Through great weakness, God gives us great strength. My weakest moment to date was the day I lost my earthly Father.
Not only was he a Hero, fire fighter, servant, auctioneer, Christian, father, husband, traveler, missionary, leader, friend, son, jokester, manger, role model, athlete – but he was my dad. It’s hard to explain a man when so many others explain him so well.
My story isn’t about his heroic efforts, or the lives that he changed – my story is the simple fact that he was My Dad. I saw him as human. I understood him better than most; looked up to him and learned from him, but also taught him so much. I helped him and he helped me, I am part of his DNA, his blood, his attitude and now his legacy.
Some people don’t get to know their dad, and if they do they don’t get to say that their dad was as amazing as mine. Of course I am partial. But it’s respect that I long to show my dad – and I longed to hear him say, “I am proud of you” when he was here on earth. Many times he did, but in my eyes I was never good enough. Not because he ever told me that, but because I strive to be better, and I did back than as well. A trait I inherited from him.
Growing up I thought we were opposite at best. I didn’t understand many of the things he did, and of course those “rough” teenage years came along and for me, my dad was not the number one person on my list to be my best friend. Once I moved out I would get frustrated with him when I would call him for advice on “what I should be when I grow up” and his response would be “you will be successful at anything you do.” At the time I wanted an answer like be a beautician, or doctor, something attainable, something with a title. Then came the years of my first few titles – I would send him my personality tests and he would send me his – we would always get a big laugh out of how similar they were.Now I realize that I want my life to be much like his – more than a title or job, but a devoted life lived for Jesus Christ.
All of this said, I can clearly see that we are more alike than I once knew. For some odd reason (maybe its because we are both odd) but I understood his communication style. I’m not just talking about his verbal communication. I knew his heart – deep down all he wanted to do was glorify God, and for Dad, most of the time this consisted of serving others.
We were alike in visible ways as well, we both like V8, we both have a true love for ice cream, we both sang in the church choir, we both have those blue eyes that could cut through a person, we both have the ability to empower people to be better than they once were, we both worked at the Dairy Queen as teenagers, we both enjoyed motorcycle rides at night, we both love to travel, both love missions work, we both can make anyone laugh within 30 seconds of meeting them, and most importantly we both love Jesus Christ. That last one I learned from him more than anyone else I know. Looking back at all of the things we have in common is a comfort to me. Being one of 5 kids its nice to know that we shared special things, just him and I.
There is a long list of things that I can already write down that he has missed out on in my life, my Masters graduation, seeing me complete my first triathlon, being asked for my hand in marriage by my wonderful husband, seeing my face at our engagement, seeing me walk down the isle alone, seeing me marry the man God so graciously blessed me with, helping us buy our first home, seeing me join a church and start working in ministry, seeing us move back to Rochester. I can continue with a list of days I know I will miss him so deeply: the day my husband gets baptized, the day my siblings get married, the days when tragedies strike, and of course the day that God allows me to become a mother and my husband a father. Those days will hurt. But I’m not promised those days, what I am promised is strength from the Lord when those days do come.
I am not going to be a Debbie downer. I have no reason to pity myself. But much like my first line of this story says – great strength comes from great weakness. God has blessed me more in the time after my dad’s death than I can ever remember before. I think this way because after my dad’s death I started realizing how short life can be. How easily something can be taken away, and how much I was taking life for granted. I chose to be happy and I pray to be full of Joy. Of course I still miss my dad every single day, but God has reminded me that I have a heavenly father that will never leave me or forsake me, and that one day I will be joined again with my earthly father. Together we will sing once again praises to our Lord and Savior. For now, I want to life my life pleasing to the Lord and thank Him for blessing me with such a great earthly example of His Fatherly love.
Until Next Time,
All the photos in both blog posts belong 100% to Shawna DeCola and may not be used without permission. Thank you!