Father’s Day Memories-a series Pt 3: Lollipop Dad

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“What would you like for Father’s Day, Dad?”

 

“Oh…an all-day sucker.”

 

“Ah, come on, Dad. Isn’t there something you really want?”

 

“An all-day sucker.”

 

learysdadEvery year as far back as I can remember my dad would give my sisters and me the same response. We surmised that he wasn’t really a fan of lollipops, or “all-day suckers” as he would call them. I don’t think we ever saw him eat one.  Instead, we reasoned, it was his way of deflecting us from knowing what he might really want for Father’s Day. We confirmed our theory one year by giving him a huge “all-day sucker” only to see him set it aside with a polite “thank you.”  To this day, I’m not sure if he even ate it.

 

Like many men from his generation, he was taught to be strong by being the silent type. There’s much I don’t know about my father.  We lived in the same home, though physical proximity is not the same as intimacy. His inner world was a fortress that none could penetrate.  And when he finally surrendered that fortress to the grave, he took with him the hope of a son to know first-hand his father’s accomplishments, aspirations, disappointments and beliefs.

 

Why is it that we often don’t know the questions to ask when the opportunity is best?  I didn’t have much interest in exploring my father’s inner world when I was young.  But, as the years went by, I felt my longing increase.  Like the tension on a kite string, it grew as it was let out.  Eventually, the pull became so great, its presence could no longer be ignored.

 

That string broke on April 19, 2000.  In the days that would follow, as distant relatives came to pay their last respects, I would learn more of the man who wanted only an all-day sucker. Stories of his sacrifices as a soldier and as a provider to his extended family warmed me.  There was much more to this man than I will ever know.  Embarrassing things, I’m sure.  But also things that would have made me proud.  Yet, only God knows them all. Through my extended family, God gave me the glimpses of my father’s life story that I needed to lay him to rest in the earth—and in my heart.

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