Tattooed on daddy’s arm in faded bluish green ink can be read on simple work, “Tom.” Dad says he got it at the county fair when he turned sixteen. Dad is not a big man, but stands about five feet nine inches tall and his head shines like a cue ball. He likes to tell his grandchildren that he stuck his finger in a light socket and lost all his hair. Daddy’s ability to show emotional strength, rather then his physical appearance, describes him best.
I know someday daddy’s rewards in heaven will be pinned on his chest like a distinguished war veteran as God exclaims, “Tom, you receive these medals for compassion, honor, integrity, humility and most of all for strength.” Whether those rewards exist or not, I know God will give them to him anyway.
Remembering back to my childhood, I can see daddy as my protector, running across the street and pounding on the neighbors door because the neighbor boy hit daddy’s little girl. He made sure it never happened again. I sat in the front window watching my hero as he fought the battle with words instead of fists. Daddy never got in fist fights because he walked away before that could ever happen. “What will I do when daddy can’t solve my problems,” I thought to myself. Daddy taught me a lesson from this battle. Daddy somehow or another always taught silent lessons from situations. Sometimes the lessons came harder for me, but daddy made sure that through my many mistakes, I learned them. Daddy showed his strength through being my protector.
In high school daddy gave me strength by supporting my many sports activities. He even left work early many times to drive to an out of town diving meet or track meet. He never screamed or yelled, but silently cheered. I call him the strong silent type. If he thought I needed advice or support he calmly walked over and whispered in my ear, “Good job Bren.” Daddy showed his strength by being my silent cheerleader.
I never realized the magnitude of daddy’s strength until he held me up through the most devastating crisis in my life. My first husbands funeral. I still remember daddy standing next to me with his arm gently around me in a room full of caskets. I needed to pick one out to bury my husband in. “Hold me daddy and make it all go away,” I thought to myself. “What do you think,” I asked daddy as the tears swelled up in my eyes. The practical side of daddy surfaced as he said, “This one looks nice, yet is not too expensive.” He knew I felt too emotional to make a rational decision so it was up to him to be my strength in making a decision. I felt like a little girl again safe under daddy’s wing. The low light and soft elevator music in the room couldn’t soothe my aching heart. Only daddy’s strong arms around me doubled with his emotional strength made me feel that everything would be all right. Daddy dropped everything in his life to be by my side within hours of my husbands unexpected death. Making decisions and being the strength his little girl needed, even though she was grown up with children of her own. I still needed my daddy. Daddy showed his strength by being my comforter.
Years later, I fell in love again. I made my husband to be ask daddy for permission because I knew that if daddy disapproved of my choice he would say so. The wedding day came and daddy stood waiting to walk his little girl down the aisle. I felt butterflies in my stomach and my knees felt like wet noodles. Daddy sensed my anxiety so he leaned over and whispered in my ear, “You are really happy aren’t you.” This was not a question, but daddy’s way of giving his little girl strength by showing his approval.
That night I wanted to let daddy know that even though he gave his little girl away again, he had and would always represent my strength. During the father daughter dance I gazed into daddy’s eyes and sang, “You were my strength when I was weak.”
When daddy passes on and I need strength to get through any life situation, I will hear him saying, “Remember my little girl that I am always here to give you strength.”