There I was, sitting at the stop light. All of a sudden, an overwhelming grief ... not primarily for my mom who died an exact year before, almost to the day. No, for my dad ... who had died in 1983 right before Thanksgiving.
But why am I grieving now ... why this year, when I hadn't thought of him at this time other years?
I tried to track my train of thought and realized that my thoughts had gone from grieving over my mistakes in my parenting to the difficulties in my own childhood home.
The upheavals in my family of origin, often centering around my dad and his reactions, often drowned out the memories of the good things. But the Holy Spirit broke through, "Your dad did the best he could."
And he did.
My dad struggled with how he handled the stresses of life ... sometimes to the point of causing severe suffering in the lives of those he loved. Yet, in spite of all that, he was a hard worker and a faithful man.
And by the grace of God, the good memories began to come strongly to my mind. As a young adult, I began to see and experience the "real him."
Somewhere along the line, I believe that Dad had come to know the Lord. And so as an adult daughter, I experienced a tender relationship with my darling dad. When I was living at home in NJ for several months before my marriage, I remember meeting him for lunch during his workday. He was a tool and die maker and worked in a machine shop. He proudly introduced me as his daughter to his co-workers.
After I was married in 1971 and living in Pittsburg, I received precious letters from my dad. His handwriting was perfect, and his expression of his feelings and thoughts came through his words. Dad always included some of the coupons that he knew I clipped and used. I have a couple of those letters and can barely read them without sobbing. In them he expressed a heart of tenderness and gratefulness to God and to others.
We moved to the Washington D.C. area in 1976 when my husband John became a youth pastor at McLean Bible Church. Dad loved to visit, so he and my mom came often. They always did some sight-seeing, and Dad always brought food items like canned goods and packaged food items to "help out." I loved him for that.
Dad was alive to meet his four oldest grandchildren. He doted on those grand babies. I'm so thankful for that. He was an amazing "Poppi."
My daughter Beth treasures the photo that was taken of Poppi with his grandbaby Beth.
But Dad died so young ... just 60 years old. Oh how I wish he lived longer ... to enjoy his grand babies and to enjoy his seven adult children. I had never felt that I was "Daddy's little girl" (my sister Linda was that), but I can't help but feel that I was just beginning to be "Daddy's big girl."
So I unexpectedly grieve ... for my daddy!
And I'm grateful that my Jesus is a Redeeming God ... who can even bring good out of hard things and bring into our consciousness the good memories, the precious thoughts and encounters.
Is there an unexpected grief in your life? May you experience the Redeeming Christ in your grief. And may you see the good that He brings even out of the hard things. Amen.
Revelation 21:4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”