Lesson From My Dad

I woke up early this morning so that I could be sure that I would be able to accomplish a task near and dear to my heart.  I think that it is so because of my dad and his reaction to his nine year old daughter’s distress .    My heart is still so tightly wrapped around that response that it has affected the path I have taken on more than one occasion in my life. 

When I was in fourth grade, I had a boyfriend and his name was Chuck.  He sat behind me in class and sometime, around my birthday I think, he gave me a ring.  It was not a bubble gum machine ring because it did not turn my finger green, nor was it adjustable.  Impressive I know, but it even fit my index finger perfectly and had a green stone in it.  My mother was horrified that I accepted the ring, but my dad allowed me to keep it. 

Right after Thanksgiving, probably at lunch in the cafeteria at school, there was discussion about what we had for the holiday dinner.   At our house, there was a huge meal; turkey and ham, multiple side dishes to please everyone’s palates, and, of course, multiple desserts.  When asked about his dinner, my boyfriend said, “We had green beans.”   I had a moment of total incomprehension.  In all of my sheltered life, it was, after that split second of shock, the first time I realized that everyone did not have what my family had.  My world view shifted with that one sentence.  I had no idea what to do, but I knew who would.  I just had to wait until he got home from work that day.  I poured out the story to my dad, and I remember the tears in his eyes as I told him, but what I most recall was his assurance that he would take care of it.  I am sure that he not only grieved for this family that had so little, but also for an inability to protect his children’s friends from going to bed hungry.   I mentioned the ring because it troubles me to this day that he gave me something so precious but there was no money in his family for food.  

The groundwork was laid for so many lessons on that day.  My belief in my dad, a certainty that he would do what he said he would do was confirmed.  He never said another word about it, but I know that as long as Chuck and his family lived in our corner of the world, they did not go hungry again.  He taught me that we have an obligation to those who are less fortunate.  It didn’t have to be a showy, obvious thing; he just quietly took care of the need.  No plaudits were expected from him nor probably received.  His ability to “save the day” gave me a place for my faith to grow into something that I would be able to completely rely upon in some of the darkest days of my life.

This morning, in honor of my dad, and in the faith he demonstrated and passed on to me, I was glad to have the resources to make a few recipes of a breakfast casserole to help feed some of the homeless in our community.   Would I have been convicted to do so without his guidance?   I don’t know.   Our small church, led by two young women, has taken on the seemingly daunting task of feeding a group of people on Saturday mornings.  The first week there were 30.  This number has jumped to 80 and will undoubtedly grow.  So we continue to do what we do best, which is for now, making some good and nutritious breakfast food and hope that it makes the day a little brighter for these new found friends. 

What I know for sure is that my dad lived his faith and taught me that there is responsibility that comes with  that faith. He may not have known the impact  of his own response that day to  "love God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind and love your neighbor as you love yourself,"  and the impression it would leave with his daughter. Those words have the ability to change the world and are a huge part of my dad's legacy that lives on in me and my brothers, and our children and granddarlings.  


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