"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." - Ephesians 1:3-5
Sunday, June 15, 2014
Dear Dad (Father's Day 2014)
I don't think about you as often as I used to. There's no
longer the searing pain in my heart that was there when you first died. But
this weekend, it's always hard. It was yours.
Even after we started our own family, my husband enjoyed
your Father's Day tradition. So we continued it with you and it became his.
This is the 7th Father's Day we're celebrating without you. It's been difficult
to find my bearings without you here.
Just yesterday, we still had our zoo day. It wasn't on
Father's Day itself, but it was close enough. Old Country Buffet lost its
appeal a little more each year without you. So eating breakfast there never
even came on our radar this year. We just ate our first meal of the day at
Andelise Randall is a few months shy of 6-years-old. Her
name is a reminder to me that she never met you, her Papa. (She shares your
middle name.) Her excitement for the day could not be contained! "Tell me
when we see the signs!" Every sign indicating the way to the zoo built up
We got to Brookfield Zoo right as it opened, just as you
taught us. It's not the same zoo, however. (Was the carousel even there before
you died? I don't think so.) The bears are no longer in the same location. Although
I suppose we should be thankful they still have bears. Ande wanted to go there
first but I thought the children's zoo would be better. Bad idea. They've
destroyed that as well.
I loved going to the children's zoo with you! It seemed you
were so relaxed there. It was always so nice to spend time with you when you'd
allow yourself to just rest. We took our time. There was never a hurry.
Dad holding me at the Children's Zoo with my siblings
What a disappointment that they closed the children's zoo!
(I supposed if I really thought about it, I was probably informed by a friend
that it was closed but still... It appears it is a thing of the past and it
saddens my heart.) I informed the employee, that came over to explain the area
was under construction, of my disappointment. It seems there is always more
construction and less animals every time we visit Brookfield Zoo! If it weren't
for your tradition, I think I'd turn to Lincoln Park instead. (At least there
are no expectations there for me.)
We went and saw the bears. Jaycie took over my camera and
snapped pictures of everything she could... including herself. I've got to
learn how to quit being disappointed when my expectations aren't met and just
enjoy the moment. I'm like you in that way, Daddy.
We decided to leave the zoo to eat lunch at Russell's. I
know you'd always charge ahead to see every animal possible and then reward us
with Russell's for dinner but changing this up worked well for my family.
(Nikelle, who will be 12 later this month, was especially happy because her
lunch at the zoo on a recent school field trip left her pooped on by a bird.
Her one request was that we didn't eat lunch outside.) We didn't have to stress
over finding a parking space or finding a table. Lunch was enjoyable.
While I now understand well why we didn't get a choice of
what we'd order growing up, I let my girls choose. Ande ordered a hamburger.
The rest of us would have made you happy as we each chose the 1/2 barbecue
chicken meal. I was surprised Nikelle and Jaycie made that choice but it was
the right one!
I wish I had my camera inside with me to take a picture of
our little 8-year-old blondie gobbling up her meal. (We're still behind the
time with our old phones that don't capture pictures like new technology does
these days.) That girl enjoyed every bite of that chicken to the bone! We
aren't even sure how she managed to fit it inside her little body! She was a
mess with the tasty Russell's barbecue sauce all over her hands and face.
I could hear your laugh inside my head. You would have
responded with such joy over this simple moment: Your granddaughter, devouring
the adult-sized meal you so enjoyed as well! My heart was full as my eyes fought back tears. I still miss you.
We drove back to the zoo which brought us past a Menards.
That store will always be identified with you. I rarely step foot into on
because my heart still twists every time.
Then I knew it was coming... I decided that I would point
out that stupid place to my girls this time: Loyola Hospital. I wish there was
no story to tell but I told it. "Girls, this is the hospital that tried to
help keep your Papa alive." It frustrates me that there's no emotions in
my girls hearts over any of it because I still wrestle with it against my will.
(They were 5, 2 and in the womb when you died. How could I expect them to feel
any emotion when Nikelle struggles to remember you?)
Their daddy begins to tell stories about the many trips his
grandparents spent at that hospital. He tells an account of how his Grandma
broke a record with the size of a tumor doctors pulled out of her stomach there.
I know he has his own stories but I'm still wrestling with demons as he tells
his light-hearted story. I'm frustrated that I even have a story to identify
with that hospital.
I try to wrap up my feelings as I inform the girls of a more
tangible part of the story for them. "Your Grams spent many an
uncomfortable night sleeping in that hospital caring for your Papa." That
was that. My mind went to my cousin who is spending time with her 8-year-old
daughter in a hospital in Michigan trying to determine why the little girl is
in so much pain. I prayed for her as we went back to the zoo.
We saw the penguins despite Ande's aversion to the noise of
the giant splashing wave. I assured her she didn't have to be scared. Memories
take me back to the times you'd find great joy in positioning each of your
grandchildren under the clear glass and wait with them for what you knew would
catch them by surprise. Unknowingly, they would listen to their Papa only to
jump when the wave crashed on the glass. You'd laugh and we'd join in because
your laugh was always contagious.
Our girls enjoy the Hamill Family Play Zoo. It costs extra
money, so I don't think you ever set foot on the inside of it. Nikelle helped
Ande paint her face as a pink bunny and Jaycie enjoyed drawing art on her own
arms. At the end of our day, Andelise braved touching a Boa Constrictor in the
same type of setting we would have had opportunity to pet the pony at the children's zoo.
I suppose it didn't end our day - just our time at the zoo.
We still followed the tradition of making the trek to The Plush Horse for some
ice cream. We just were able to enjoy it a bit more since we weren't stuffed with
barbecue chicken immediately prior to going. My girls each enjoyed one scoop of
ice cream each. Yes, only one scoop. I know you'd never hear of anything less than a
double scoop. Don't worry, Rod and I still enjoyed two flavors each. (And the girls couldn't even finish what they had.)
Anyway, thanks for having big expectations. At times, as a kid, it was
difficult to sit by as you wrestled with the disappointment you experienced. As an adult, however, who struggles in the same way, I'm
thankful your expectations were big. You simply wanted to give your children the
full enjoyment of the things that brought you pleasure. They do, Dad. We do. Your
grandkids do, too.
And I look forward to enjoying Heaven with you one day too.