When I was a little girl, I used to run across the living room and fling myself at Daddy’s knees in a gesture of playfulness while he sat in his recliner. Perhaps it was my way of feeling close to a Daddy who was physically present and often played with us kids, yet was often emotionally distant, especially when this little frightened, troubled child needed him the most. But having lost a son whom he’d tended for 18 years and knew was going to die, Daddy dealt with grief I couldn’t fathom as a child. Still, I also dealt with grief and the symptoms of grief I couldn’t understand at the time. Years later after I’d married and birthed children of my own, Daddy confided that he wished he’d known better how to help me. Knowing he knew didn’t erase the loss of emotional investment during my formative years, but it did breed more understanding and closeness to a Daddy who I knew loved me and would lasso the moon for me, if possible.
In his advanced years, with nerve damage in his legs, Daddy struggled to walk, so we would take him for a ride outside in his wheelchair. On one occasion as we neared the house, he reached out his hand for mine. I took hold as I had so often done as a little girl when he was my robust, larger-than-life Daddy walking with me down the sidewalk. He didn’t say anything to me—his words left when Mama died a couple years earlier—yet the twinkle in his blue eyes told me he still knew I was his little girl whom he loved with all his heart.
On a visit which turned out to be our last, I knelt at Daddy’s recliner and held his hand. “Thank you, Daddy, for being the first one to tell me about Jesus.” While he didn’t verbally respond, I believe he heard words that held rich meaning, for his life was all about Jesus. With Paul, he often affirmed his favorite truth: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20, KJV).
Daddy died two days later. I’m so thankful God allowed me one more time to slip to my knees, this time verbally thanking my father for the greatest gift he could’ve ever given me—Jesus.
I often muse on that last encounter. The visual helps me project to the day I will physically kneel at Jesus’ feet, take His hand, and thank Him for His love, mercy, and grace toward one so unworthy of His great sacrifice.
And though I do not physically see Him now, I kneel in His presence, for He is here in the form of His indwelling Holy Spirit. I take His hand, press it against my cheek, at times soak it with my tears, and say, “Thank You!”