Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Here's #3 on our list of Top Ten LifeNotes of 2008, "Beautifully Normal." My father was preceded in passing on to Jesus by mother, who, if life is a race to see Jesus, beat my father by a nose. By I doubt she's gloating about it. Well, maybe just a little.
"Beautifully Normal" is about life and mourning and how things play out from here. I hope you enjoy it.
While tapping my foot to some oldie-but-goodie tune in my head yesterday, I reached for my phone. Holding it in my hand, I was suddenly shrink-wrapped and frozen by a shocking realization: I can't call my dad. He won't answer. He's not there.
For a moment I couldn't breathe, but warm saline filled my eyes and seemed to jump-start my mind and mouth. "How's my dad?" I stammered. "Jesus, how's my daddy?" While the Spirit filled me with rest and peace in the moment, still yesterday was more about missing my dad than celebrating him. So far I've had both.
As I begin again to write (you may have noticed a lack of communication lately), I'm sure the longings and loves connected to my father will well up from my heart and spill out on paper--well, cyber paper anyway. I hope you don't mind, because that's a lot of how writing is for me, a sort of lowering of the bucket into the well of my heart. What I find is really good, but there's effort and hope and fear and thirst involved, so the process is not always easy.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions, particularly during this season of my life. It's often difficult or awkward to be around people who are grieving or sad or longing because we want them to be, well, normal. But you probably know that that's the game no matter how you play it. Normal is a place you visit on the way to somewhere else.
My daughters are figuring it out, too.
After yesterday afternoon's frustrated phone incident, my family and I were lying around together doing something that didn't revolve around a funeral. What a change. What a relief. In full command of the remote control, I was flipping back and forth between the World Series and a movie I remember liking very much, Driving Miss Daisy. Naturally, my daughters didn't seem to value how important a 3-2 game in the eighth inning was, and I soon knuckled under to, "Da-a-aad! Can't we watch the movie?"
It wasn't long before I was driving Miss Daisy. The grumpy senior citizen (Jessica Tandy) chauffeured by the younger servant (Morgan Freeman) in the movie became my father and me. As their relationship progressed and deepened from boss and employee, superior and subordinate, to friendship and family, trust and reliance, so I saw that my relationship with my father had too. And the last scene got me. Abilities failing, the once rigid and standoffish elderly lady shows she has utterly accepted the servant when, warmly smiling, she allows him to feed her. He serves her with grace and kindness—he wants to—when he could easily be doing something else.
As I teared up, one of my daughters noticed and began making jokes to rescue her struggling father. With all the gentleness and care that were welling from my heart, I said, "It's okay. It's alright. I love my dad and he loves me, and this reminds me." She understood, and it was one of those great moments time will not erase.
In an otherwise abnormal life, it was beautifully normal.