Category Archives: Memories of Daddy

Memories of Daddy’s Rubber Gloves

My Daddy is a day away from a move that he is totally unaware of. He is in advanced stages of dementia and is shortly moving to a nursing home to receive full time care. It has been difficult for my mind to even process this. Mostly it feels like an out of body experience. I live a couple of hours away from my parents, so it’s not part of my daily experience to see his dementia. When we are together, he tends to do well because he enjoys the company, even if he’s not always sure who we are. Daddy has always enjoyed life. I remember so many times he claimed to be a child stuck in a man’s body. Not far from the truth. He played often, told corny jokes, and never sat on the sidelines of life. He was a hands-on dad. Engaged.

This week all that he means to me and all that I’m losing hit me squarely between the eyes when my two year old came out of the kitchen wearing the rubber gloves he keeps at my house. She exclaimed happily, “Papa’s gloves!” Tears immediately filled my eyes as I helped her put her chubby fists deeper into the giant blue and yellow gloves that dwarfed her hands. His rubber gloves. Every time my parents would visit us, my dad would insist on washing the dinner dishes, and any other dishes left over from the day, for that matter. He always had to serve us in that way, even feigning offense if we tried to dissuade him. Like me, he prefers to wear gloves when washing dishes, so he purchased a pair years ago to leave at my house so that he’d be prepared to wash any time he came. He has always been the family “dishwasher,” even when I was at home, insisting on serving my mom by cleaning the dishes after she had cooked a meal for the family. Whenever I have lamented not having an electronic dishwasher, or my mother before me, he would say, “What do you need that for when you’ve got me?”

Funny how such a simple thing  as rubber gloves can set off the deepest emotional response. Partly the tears came because, even at two, Hannah knows whose gloves they are — evidence of the bond she already shares with him, and of his importance in our family. How I wish that she would experience the version of him that I know. These gloves remind me of all that we’ve lost to dementia. That Daddy has probably visited my house for the last time. That the gloves will be empty. That he is forgetting his grandchildren, and that they will never know the version of him that I hold so dear. That he knows me less and less each time he sees me. The thief of dementia. I miss the heart of the hands that once filled those gloves.

Whenever I slip on my gloves to serve my family, I am aware of the legacy he created, the servant’s heart he and my mom both shared with me and my brother, which we now have the opportunity to walk out. Though his yellow and blue gloves are too big for me to ever fill with my feminine hands, I know that through my heart, I fill them as I serve my family and my Savior.

Like Daddy, I won’t sit on the sidelines of life. He taught me by his example how to engage, to take action, to love, how to seize the opportunity, to fully live. During times of sadness such as this, it is easy to want to check out, to go numb so that you don’t have to feel the pain of your experience. But that’s not what Daddy would do and it’s not what he would want me to do. When my mom got cancer many years ago, I can still remember my Daddy sitting in his recliner, in the same position it sits tonight, calling each one of his closest friends, and through his tears, telling them the news. He never held back. Always engaged.

This week happens to be VBS for me, so I’m doing it with all my heart. For Daddy, and for the Savior he lead me to as a child. Daddy loved nothing more than spreading the love of Jesus to others, especially young people. That’s an opportunity that must be seized every single today we have, no matter what else is fighting to distract us. That’s what Daddy would do.

I’ve been singing this over and over again….

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Memories of Daddy: Prayer

When I was a little girl, I recall vividly the way my Daddy prayed. He prayed about everything. All the time. We’d be pulling into a parking lot, and I’d hear his familiar prayer, “Lord, we just need one parking space.” It seemed like such a silly thing to pray for. And yet, as an adult, I find myself saying the same thing, out loud, with my own kids in earshot as we pull into a parking lot.

My Daddy had an ongoing conversation with his Heavenly Father. If we passed an accident, he always prayed, “Lord, those people need your help.” If he couldn’t find something, I’d hear, “Lord, where is so and such. You know where it is. Please show me.” If anyone in our family was sick, he was quick and ready to lay hands on us and pray for healing. Before every meal, he prayed more than just “Thank you for our food,” often tearing up as he spoke with his loving Father. My Daddy was a man of prayer.

While I sometimes catch myself praying similar prayers as an adult, I don’t think I realized the full impact of his continual dialogue with God on me until just recently.

A grandmother in our church shared with me about a time she visited our preschool classroom with her granddaughter who was visiting and wouldn’t stay in the class alone. The teachers asked for someone to lead in prayer before snack, and my son Micah was a ready volunteer. As he began to pray, her eyes bulged out, recounting it to me, she exclaimed, “He took us to church!” as people often say of someone who prays a moving prayer. She was blown away by the prayer of my four year old. (But, not to worry, she said, as he was soon talking about poop and being a typical four-year-old again!)

In that moment of talking with Pam is when my Daddy’s legacy hit me. He was a man of prayer. He made me a woman of prayer. And now my children are becoming people of prayer.

My Daddy left a legacy of prayer in my life because he was always doing it in front of me. I’m sure we can all identify problem habits that our children have because they’ve seen us model them. But are we modeling the good habits also? My Daddy modeled “pray without ceasing” every day of his life when I was growing up. And now it’s ingrained in me. I want the same thing for my children. But I realize that if I don’t model it for them, then they won’t grasp it in that way. If I never prayed with them or in their earshot, then how would they learn to pray?

Many people like to use rote prayers that are repeated before meals or bedtime, “Now I lay me down to sleep” stuff. That’s alright, but I don’t think it captures the real relationship I have with my Heavenly Father. Sure, there are things I don’t pray about in front of my kids because they don’t need to know the intimate details of certain situations. But there are a lot of things I do pray about in front of my kids. I want them to know what authentic conversation with God sounds like.

That’s what prayer is in our house — a conversation with God. And my kids know they can talk to God anytime. He’s always listening, I tell them. My kids are invited in to prayer time throughout our day. Sometimes they choose to repeat what I’m praying, and sometimes they pray their own prayers.

I’m thankful I had a Daddy who taught me to pray continually through the way he lived his life. And now, in turn, I hope to model that for my children as well.

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Memories of Daddy: The Sap is Running

Mornings like this take me back. There’s a light frost, and the air is chilly, but as the sun peeks out, I know it will be a warm day. As I’m getting ready for my day, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, putting on my make up, my mind is 100 miles away.

I’m in Mansfield, in a small grove of maple trees outside my best friend’s house. It’s cool in the woods, but the afternoon sun above the canopy of trees is warm. The night was chilly, the morning saw a light frost. But by afternoon we’d shed our jackets and felt the warm sun on our skin as we played outside. We’d run with the energy of the coming spring, knowing that the cold days of winter were now numbered.

After work, on these days of my memory, Daddy would come pick me up in his gray Honda hatchback. I would know our destination with one glimpse into the trunk. It would be full of industrial sized mayonnaise jars, empty, of course, awaiting sap. We’d drive the few minutes from home to that grove of trees and gather the sap. I’m sure I wasn’t as helpful as I remember, because I couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 when I remember helping Daddy with the sap. I have a 6 year old, and I know exactly how helpful she would be in this task! But I never remember Daddy getting frustrated, just a happy camaraderie as we went around to check our gray metal buckets to see how much sap we’d collected. We poured it into the mayo jars and tallied up our cache. Only a couple of gallons on a slow day. But some days the 3 gallon buckets would be full to overflowing. Days like today, where the morning was chilly, but the sun soon brought warmth. The sap would start to flow. We haven’t collected sap in well over 20 years, but this type of day never fails to take me right back to those maple trees.

I felt special when I got to collect sap with Daddy. He’s always had a way of making me feel special. I hope that I have that way about me, as I’m like him in many ways. I hope that I can live in the moment with my kids and create special memories that they will cherish on cool spring mornings. I’m sure that my daddy was stressed just like me, just like every other adult on this planet, and I’m sure at times he let that out in ways he shouldn’t have, but I rarely remember him giving in to that stress. I know he did, because he remembers (or used to) and used to talk about it, feeling like he had made mistakes. That gives me a lot of hope. Because I feel that way about myself a lot, like I’m going to mess my kids up with all my mistakes. But I don’t really remember his mistakes. I just remember collecting sap with my daddy. I remember him pouring in to me, just like that sap poured into those buckets, just like I want to pour into my own kids now.

A portion of an article published in the local newspaper about my daddy’s sapping, circa 1986. I remember that hat vividly.

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