Indelible memories of Dad

by Annette Bridges. ©2009. All rights reserved.

Father’s Day is a time to commemorate and celebrate the fathers and father figures in our lives. They include stepfathers, uncles, grandfathers, father-in-laws, and big brothers – all those who’ve had a role in shaping our life. The word father has also often been used to honor spiritual leaders and inventors throughout history. And certainly many pray to our divine Father every day of the year.

I’ve been thinking about my dad. Even though he passed on when I was young, I have very vivid—some very endearing—memories. Remembering the good took me years because my brief time with him was sometimes filled with sadness—with my dad angry, indifferent, or absent from the scene altogether. He and my mom went through a volatile divorce about a year before he died. Bad memories, however, have become fewer through my prayers to reflect and focus on the good. The balance of memories has been readjusted. This healing journey has brought me much peace.

Even though I can’t spend Father’s Day with my dad in person, nothing makes me feel closer to him than when I think of us both as children of the same divine Parent. I was introduced to Christian Science around the time my dad passed on. Learning that God was always present with me and all of His children, including my dad, was very comforting to me back then, and is now. In fact, nothing is more reassuring and strengthening than when I ponder and feel our Father’s love and presence.

I remember feeling self-assured and encouraged by his confidence in me.

As I recall a few cherished moments with my dad, some Bible verses also come to mind, reminding me that our Father is indeed always caring for and loving both me and my dad (and you and yours) throughout eternity.

“Blessed be the Lord thy God, which delighted in thee ….” (II Chronicles 9:8)

I loved watching television with my dad—albeit a black and white one in those days. One of my greatest afternoon delights was when my dad came home from work and invited me to watch his favorite talk show with him. I can’t say how many times I watched TV with him, but apparently it was meaningful for me to snuggle with him on the sofa. I remember feeling wanted and loved in his warm embrace.

“Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12:32)

One of my early childhood dreams was to be a professional singer and musician—not that I had any special talent for either. I remember very well the day my parents bought me a baritone ukulele like my fourth-grade teacher’s. My dad set up a music stand in my room that displayed a chord instruction book. After a few suggestions from him, he left me alone to self-teach. I remember feeling self-assured and encouraged by his confidence in me.

“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23)

It’s probably a true statement to say we all want, like, and need to be needed. One of my fondest memories of my dad is when he asked me to help him mix up concrete. He was making a decorative brick wall around our back patio at our new house. My job was to scoop the cups of concrete mix. I remember how important I felt as I fulfilled my duties and how pleased my dad was with my work. His faith in me made me believe I could do anything.

Perhaps my most indelible memory of my dad is holding his hand.

“The Lord hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: ….” (Jeremiah 31:3)

And then there were the times when all I needed to feel safe and sound was to hold my daddy’s hand. For a while, the six members of my family shared a two-bedroom apartment. During this time, my bed was parallel to my parents’. I remember many nights when I was afraid in the dark, but all my fears disappeared as soon as I reached across the aisle between our beds to grab my dad’s hand. His strong hand made me feel protected and invincible. And again, I felt loved.

Children may not always understand their dads. We may get very little time to know them. We may sometimes disagree with them. We may even want to be very different from them. But I like to believe that, at least most of the time, our fathers love us. Certainly, we all have a divine Father who does.

Perhaps my most indelible memory of my dad is holding his hand. I’m looking at a photo right now that is on the bookcase in front of my desk. I’m in my Easter dress and bonnet, standing beside my dad and holding his hand. So in the words of singer Holly Dunn – “I’ll always remember the love in Daddy’s hands.” And I’ll never take for granted the love that is always embracing us all from our Father-Mother God.

Father’s Day for a country boy

by Annette Bridges. © 2008. All rights reserved.

Yes, like the popular country song by Trace Adkins says, “Ladies love country boys.” I couldn’t agree more. My mamma raised me to be a “lady” just like the song says of its heroine. Most of my growing up years were in the big city of Dallas where I attended the largest schools in the city at that time. My youthful years were filled with theater, dance, musicals and symphony.

Perhaps you could imagine my mamma’s surprise when I announced I was marrying a country boy from a small North Texas town and was going to live on his family’s cattle ranch. She has often joked that she didn’t raise me to get my hands dirty, so she had a difficult time imagining me living in the country.

Actually, my husband grew up in the big city, too, but his parents bought the ranch when he was five years old, so he spent most weekends and summers of his growing up years in the country doing what country boys do. My husband’s family moved to the country full-time after he graduated from high school. One thing is for certain — my husband grew up with the love of the country in his mind, body and soul. So there was never any question where he and his wife would live after he married — not in his mind anyway.

My purpose with this column is to explain a little bit about why city girls love country boys or at least why this city girl loves her country boy. And I want to talk about what makes a country boy a great father. In doing so, I plan to praise some of the many endearing qualities of my own country boy. And for any of you young gals out there looking for a husband and future father for your children, you may want to consider these qualities as requisite.

Good manners, dependability and honesty are the first three qualities that occur to me. My country boy always says “Please” when he asks his daughter or me to do anything and everything and says “Thank you” afterwards. When he makes a promise, he keeps it. When he says he will do something, he does it. When you need his help, he’s ready and willing. And when he gives you a compliment, he really means it. He doesn’t throw compliments around casually, mind you. If you need the truth, ask him and the truth is what you’ll get. It may not be exactly what you want to hear, but he gives his honest opinion and viewpoint in a gentle and kind manner.

My husband is also sincere, trustworthy, candid, straight-forward, plain-spoken, genuine, truehearted and square-shooting. All of which makes him a bona fide country boy and a great husband and daddy.

Did I say patient? My most favorite daddy-daughter memory was when my husband would come in the house after a long, hot day working outside. He would immediately be greeted by our little daughter who had comb and spray-bottle in hand ready to give her daddy what she called a “wet and wild” hairdo. And of course he obliged his daughter’s request for him to sit on the floor.

When I think of my dear husband, I can’t help but think God is smiling and saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 17:5)

Now don’t get me wrong. My husband is not always the most perfect husband and dad. Like the rest of us, he makes mistakes and doesn’t always make the best choices. But nothing can take away the goodness God instilled in him. And that’s true of you and me, too. Our innate goodness can’t be lost or robbed from us either.

Maybe we forget sometimes to let our better qualities guide us. And maybe we get down on ourselves when we fail to live up to our divine potential.

But my southern roots promise “tomorrow is another day.” If God isn’t keeping score of our mistakes, why should we? Didn’t Jesus teach us how to amend for our faults and flaws when he said, “Go and sin no more”? (John 8:11)

So here’s wishing all you dads out there a happy Father’s Day — country dads and city dads. You’re all good in God’s eyes!