Sunday, June 17, 2012

Daddy's girl

These commands I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. - Deuteronomy 6:7 (NIV)
Sgt. Peter Maddock
I grew up in Donora, then a steel mill town, one of many along the Monongahela River in the Mon Valley. Dad worked day shift at the mill, which was a 15-minute walk down the hill from our green wood-frame, two-story house on McCrea Avenue. When I heard the mill whistle signaling the end of his shift, I’d wait at the top of the path for him. To this day, I don’t know whether I was more eager to see my father or discover what treat he had for me in his lunch bucket.
The youngest of three, I was “Daddy’s girl.” He was the one who named me. Mom wanted “Teresa,” but Dad insisted, “Her name is Michele.” No place was safer than his lap, nothing better than horseback rides on his strong back at bedtime. Although Dad was small in stature, he was a giant in my eyes.

His off-hours were spent in his carpentry shop, a more fun place for me than Mom’s kitchen. While Dad crafted cabinets, I’d loop a clothesline rope around one end of a sawhorse, swing my leg over the back, and ride the trails of my imagination. My continuous questions never seemed to bother him. He answered every one patiently and in a way I could understand.
It was Dad who bought me my first tricycle. I can still see its chrome handlebars gleaming in the Saturday morning sun, its red and white plastic streamers dancing the spring breeze. It was Dad who introduced me to archery and chuckled when he came home from work to discover one of my stray arrows had found its mark in one of his shop windows.
It was Dad who went looking for me one summer night when I was 15 and didn’t come home on time after an evening with friends at a church bazaar. Back then we didn’t have cell phones, and I hadn’t even given it a thought to let my parents know I was walking my best friend, who lived across town, home.
It was Dad, a year later, who taught me to drive. I can still hear his voice cautioning me to “watch out for the other guy.” And when I’d come home after an evening out, I often found him sitting on the side of his bed, head bowed, hands folded in prayer.
It was Dad who saw that I’d never have to repay college loans. He’d paved the way for me to get funding through the state Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation because of my hearing loss. I resented it at first—I didn’t want to be “different”—but through the years I’ve come to appreciate it.
Although Dad didn’t live to see my children—he died when I was a senior in college—the lessons he taught me by his example—lessons of patience, steadfast love, and the importance of family—will remain with me as long as I live.
Thank you, Lord, for a father who loved me the way I was and helped me, through his example, to become to person I am today. Amen.
Special-Tea: Read Psalm 1

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