JOY --- Jesus On the JourneY

Sunday, May 24, 2009

My Dad

I am my Dad's only daughter and my mother told me he picked out my name.

He would have been 89 yesterday, I realized this as I looked this morning at yesterday's blog date on one of my drafts. He died 10 1/2 years ago at the age of 78, but he still leaves his imprint on me as I face life's challenges. He lived with the severity of muscular dystrophy the last eleven years of his life on a respirator and feeding tube. When given this diagnosis in his mid 30's, he had to make major adjustments to his life so that he could still work to support his family and serve the Lord. I have heard him quote his favorite verse from scripture, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Phil. 4. He lived that passage.

I remember seeing him practice for songleading with his stiff right arm at our dining room table on Sunday mornings and listening for him to come home from late night Elder's meetings. Mom said he would often lie awake concerned for people that he was shepherding.

I remember his struggle to walk later on in life. He kept going to church as it took more and more equipment to get him there. When he was put on a respirator, he lost his ability to talk for a year. Then one day I got a phone call and the husky voice on the other end said, "Jan this is your dad." It didn't really sound like his voice so I shot back, "This is not my Dad, my Dad can't talk!" and after a time he did convince me that it actually was him. He devised a way to cover the trach opening so he could talk -- he even became able to lead prayer at church." People sat up and listened to those prayers.

He was a quiet man, and it was the way he lived his life that spoke more than words.

However, we did have several significant talks that stand out in my memory.

I remember he was concerned I'd stay a tomboy forever. So one day in his walking shorts he showed me how to sit on the couch properly like a lady does instead of plopping down. He wanted to make sure that his only daughter became a lady not a tree-climbing, bike riding roughneck. He wasn't big on "I love you's" or "Wow -- you're a great gal." But I knew he quietly and deeply loved me.

Sometimes It would go like this as he used one of his expressions (Dad had several). "Beauty is as beauty does", he'd quote his mother' (In other words, act nice and you'll be pretty.) I was looking for more of a "you're so beautiful" when my face was broken out or my hair wouldn't grow right. He told my Mom once -- that yellow was a good color for me and she passed it on. I glowed inside -- because he didn't throw around empty compliments.

He took me for my driver's license 6 months after I turned 16 -- he felt I wasn't ready upon turning the legal age, so he had me wait and practice more. I had the habit of singing when I drove and I think that drove him crazy and caused him to think I wasn't safe behind the wheel. He told me I probably wouldn't pass -- but I did. That gave him something else to contend with -- so he said -- "this doesn't mean you can take the car whenever you want to." I was okay with that and didn't fuss much because I trusted my Dad. He finally turned an old Studebaker over to my younger brother Bill and me that was so old it had a hole in the front floorboard that would soak you if you hit a mud puddle. I guess he thought we couldn't do too much damage with that and there would be no big loss.

He took me shopping for shoes on a Saturday before Easter so I could get some red high heels to match a dress I was making. One thing I realized Dad was a much better shopper than Mom -- he let me have what I wanted and didn't worry if they were to "old" for my age or how much they cost.

I remember He was always working at his desk in their bedroom and I would go sprawl across the bed while he worked and talk about the life issues I needed answers for.

I went to Dad when Terry and I had a foster child that was giving me lots of hassles and I felt like I'd never be much of a mom when I had my own kids-- his words were, "You will be a great Mom -- you have to start with them when they're born - you got this child when she was 13." We did the math and realized if she'd been my biological child -- I'd have been 13 when she was born. Those simple words helped give me confidence when I thought I'd blown the whole motherhood thing.

He wasn't in to lots of praise and empty flattery - but the most memorable thing he said to me one time when I was overwhelmed with two small kids, home and ministry and feeling rather inadequqate, "I don't see how you do it all Jan," and then proceeded to give me one of his genuine compliments on my organization.

He never got past his associates degree in college - He worked a job he was dedicated to for 41 years. Towards the end of his tenure he would have to go early and leave late, so that he could manage the 4 flights of stairs in his braces -- Dad didn't make a lot of money in fact it was pretty tight quite often. He wanted for each of us a Christian college education and worked to see us all have our degrees. I don't know how they lived the year all 3 of us were in college. I do know he would work overtime at the plant and they would use some of what they'd put back for their later years to scrape by.

In all of this, he raised a family on limited strength, yet instilled in us the desire to be strong in Christ and be faithful to HIM and to our spouses, to work hard and do good.

Those later years when he had to be confined to bed I often wondered what he thought about with so much time. I know one thing, he and Mom would pray daily for their grandkids. When he knew I was coming home for a visit he would start praying for the heat of July to break and for cooler weather to come -- it always did.

When I think of my growing up years this verse comes to my mind. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:6 Dad and Mom made sure that our lives were safe and centered on Christ. That has set the stage for my adult life to be happy and whole. They left us a delightful inheritance of faith.

I am thankful that my Heavenly Father gave me Lyndle Glynn Neese as my earthly Father 59 years ago.

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