It’s that week again. The one where all the ads on your Facebook feed, on TV, all the shopping sites are all about dads, and the best gift ideas for Father’s Day. And it would be so much fun to shop for and choose the perfect gift for my Dad. If he were still alive.
I had to count back. This is the thirteenth Father’s Day my Dad hasn’t been here. In 2004, his last Father’s Day on Earth, he was in a hospital bed in his living room at home, on hospice. Thank God he wasn’t in terrible pain and we could spend the day with him.
We knew that without a healing miracle, this would be the last Father’s Day he’d be with us. We couldn’t take him out to dinner or buy him something extravagant because he couldn’t do or use anything like that. What would he do with a tie or one more mug now?
How sobering is that? You’re spending the last Father’s Day with your dad. And you know it.
And it hurt.
But even if though those paid-for material gifts weren’t a real option, time was. Yes, time. What I could give to my Dad on his last earthly Father’s Day was time. We had so little time left together, but yet time was all we had.
So time is what I gave.
During those last weeks of my Dad’s life, time was everything and the only thing. I worked at home then and my sister set up a computer at my Dad’s so I could just be there and work all day. We each had night shifts staying with him, and we paid a caretaker to stay during the day while we all worked or had school, but I was there almost all day every day anyhow. I just couldn’t be away from him.
On my nights with Dad, my daughter (then six) would come with me. She was Papa’s best girl. She’d sit at his bedside and talk to him for literal hours. We had lived with my Dad until she was four years old, so he was her third parent, and they were always very close. Best buddies. “Papa” was her first word. My baby boy was then two and would come and run circles around Papa’s bed, and bring some light into his room with his smile and questions about why Papa didn’t get up anymore.
I would go there and just sit with him, even if he was asleep for long stretches. I’d spend time. Time was all we had – very little – but then everything all at once.
And even though eventually we had clear signs my Dad would be gone in days, maybe hours…when he actually left, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t stomach it. Even though I watched him decline before my very eyes, go to sleep and become unresponsive for days, even though my brain knew what all this meant…my heart could not accept it.
That pained shock brings me to my points:
You’re never ready to let go of someone. Even if you think you’re ready, you’re not going to be. Time is always of the essence simply because we have no idea how much we truly have.
Don’t save your time! Spend it! Spend it on the people you love. You can’t bank time. You can’t squirrel it away and then bring it out when you want more. You can only spend it. That person you love so much, you don’t need to shower them with material things to show them your love. The sweetest gift you can give doesn’t cost a penny: It’s your time and attention.
If you have a dad who loves you, you are blessed. Not everyone does have a good dad, you see. Many do not. As tough as it is for me to see all those Father’s Day ads knowing I can’t shop for my dad anymore, it’s equally painful for the daughter who didn’t have a wonderful father like I did. Some girls don’t know what it feels like to have a dad who loved, supported, and cherished her. I’m very sorry for that. If that’s true for you…maybe you’re missing the dad you never had.
For those who do have that amazing dad who loves you and if he’s alive, right here in flesh and blood…love him, spend time with him, be thankful for him. Never take that for granted. Never let a rift go unfixed or a hurt go un-healed. One day all this time you’re missing out on? It’ll be gone and maybe you’ll be desperate to get it back, but you can’t. Do not waste it because of foolish pride. It’s not worth it. Never worth it.
And there’s no real balm that will soothe your heart if you miss your daddy except to know that if you have a dad who loved you, and even if he’s not here here now, you are blessed. Savor those tender memories. Maybe take a gift to an “adopted” dad to honor someone else in your dad’s memory. Maybe it’s your father-in-law you can celebrate. Maybe it’s your husband. Maybe if you do that, it’ll help a little. (Lots of maybes, but give it a try).
For the girls who never had a daddy to love them and protect them and wipe their tears when boys were stupid, I’m so sorry. Dads are so important whether we’re daughters or sons. I do know that you’re infinitely loved by a Heavenly Father. I promise you are. No matter what, you’re a daughter of someone and you’re special and precious. So go celebrate the fact that you’re a daughter this Father’s Day.
You are loved,