Last night we visited my parents.
I try not to talk about my parents very often because so many of my closest friends have already lost loved ones. But, I can't help it...
As I kissed my dad goodbye last night and told him I loved him, he held on to my hand just a little longer than usual and it was a touch I cannot get off my mind. I love him.
My dad worries out loud about the ways he thinks he was less then he should have been as a father, but, my memories are completely different than his.
He remembers with great regret one Christmas when my aunt (his sister) really needed family around her, so we loaded up all our gifts and off we went to be with her.
His memory = "I put your aunt before my own family, I took my family away from Christmas"
My memory = One of the most fun Christmases I can ever remember. All 6 of us crammed into a Dodge Dart or some sort of ridiculous small vehicle driving for hours!
His memory = "I took you kids out to my dad's farm for years and slaved away day after day trying to save the farm for him instead of being home"
My memory = That farm equals a hundred hilarious scenarios in my mind- my brother being held by my very large grandmother under the ice cold farm well faucet to make him stop holding his breath when he threw tantrums (it worked!)
- my terrifying experience trying to keep pigs in the barn with a pitch fork while the men put rings through their noses, at least until they all turned and ran toward me and I threw the pitch fork in the air and ran for the house leaving all the pigs out running haywire!
-the endless attempts of my sister and I to sneak past my grandmother (who could barely hear anything) to get upstairs in the farmhouse. Why she didn't want us kids up there is still beyond me. There was nothing up there except beds - and definitely no heat. But 10 minutes after we made it up we'd hear "You kids get down here" and down we would come preparing for the next attempt a few minutes later.
His memory = "I should have been home with my family instead of taking a night time factory job"
My memory = He had to take any job he could find while the barber shops all around town went out of business during the hippie era. I remember laying awake until I heard his car each night then immediately drifting off to sleep! I was proud of how hard he worked - and at over 80 yrs old he is still barbering.
His memory = "I wish I could have given you kids more."
My memory = I was always full, happy and thankful. And I never worried about my parents relationship or their love for me!
His memory = "I had you kids at church too much growing up, mowing, weeding, cleaning taking care of anything that needed to be done at church."
My memory = There is nothing more important than family and serving in the local church - I am serving today as a result of my parents unselfish dedication to the local church and to others.
I held onto his hand just a little bit longer than usual last night...I love him...and I still need him.
Any guilt he feels is false guilt - given the chance, I wouldn't change a thing!