Pleasing My Father

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I went out to get the mail. I knew it probably wouldn’t be there, but I needed some fresh air…and steps…always steps.

It wasn’t there.

I wasn’t ready to go back into the overheated house. (One of the challenges of living with an older person with no insulation on her bones.) I knew that older people kept their homes warmer. I just wasn’t ready to be in a house where the furnace ran most of the day. The air was warm and sometimes hard for me to breathe.

Fresh air would do my brain some good. I sat in my chair and soaked in the sun and bird songs around me. My eyes closed in a moment of sweetness.

As soon as my eyes opened the sweetness was gone. No longer did the bluest sky fill my vision. Nope. All I could see was the dirt and debris. And the song of the birds was replaced by my father’s voice. I was transported back to high school, I found Dad in the garage cleaning and grousing. Dad took great pride in his well manicured lawn and clean garage.

The image barely passed and I found myself looking for a broom and dust pan. Items found, I quickly set about the task of sweeping the garage, porch, and front walk.

Sometime around my third pile of sand and stuff, I thought, “Dad would be pleased.”

My dad died in 1989. I never felt like he was proud of me. Not proud that I was fourth runner up to Miss Teenage Columbus. Not proud that I was a First Class Girl Scout. Not proud that my class elected me to student council as I was entering High School. Not proud that I graduated in the top 10% of my class of over 30. Not proud of anything I did, or who I was.

Once he told me I’d never write anything anyone would ever want to read.

And yet, here I was sweeping out a garage in a house he never lived in…hoping he would be pleased with me, with the job I had done, that I’d even thought to care.

When I was all finished I sat back down in my chair. I felt a brief wave of sadness flow over my heart. But just as quickly as it was gone, I felt a warmth—the warmth of a smile. In that mysterious way of knowing, I knew it wasn’t a smile from my dad. This smile came straight from my Holy Father. The One who knows me, loves me, walks with me, stays right by my side. The One who created me, sustains me, encourages me, strengthens me. The One who is always proud of me.

My name is written on his hands.

So is yours.

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