Sunday, 17 June 2012

The small miracle of fathers

My father, Luffey Everson
(affectionately known as Bubba
when he became a grandfather)
on his birthday in 1985.
Bill Peachman, on the day of
Benjamin's dedication in 1986. 
Ben is in his arms,
Ruth is beside him and Rebekah 
beside her. In the blue dresses 
are my nieces Sarah (curly hair)
 and Shannon.

It's hard to be a father. Or a mother. This whole parenthood thing is fraught with potholes and places to stumble from start to finish. There are so many ways to get it wrong.

It's  incredible to be a father. Or a mother. This whole parenthood this is such a humbling privilege, and full of so much reward. It is beyond beautiful when you get it right.    

My dad was the pharmacist  in our community of Long Branch. Everyone on the Lakeshore knew him, and in those day, many went to the pharmacy before they went to the doctor. He worked hard all his life, and was respected in the community. 

He called me his "little honey bee" which got shortened to "Bee" when I got older, until the nickname was dropped in my teens. I don't remember my dad telling me that he loved me, but I always knew he did. His love language was gifts, and he would bring me little things that made the message clear. On Valentine's Day, I always got my own little heart shaped box of chocolates, and he was famous for mushy cards on birthdays.  When I was sick, he would bring me home puzzle books and paper dolls to keep me busy, and some Saturdays he would make me breakfast in bed and bring it to me on a tray.   

When Bill and I had been married five years, we moved to Mississauga. We lived in a rented townhouse, which was a step up from our rented apartment in Scarborough, but we didn't know how we would ever get into the housing market. Although the days of mountain-high interest rates had passed, and housing prices had moderated, we had two little kids, one income, and no way to save for a down payment. My parents came to dinner one night, and during dessert, my dad said they had something they wanted to tell us. Alarm bells went off in my head. My dad didn't talk like this--what was going on? It was then he announced that they'd decided to give us the down payment for a house. They didn't want to be in on the decision, and there were no conditions. It was a gift. I was stunned. 

I still live in that house today. Thanks, Dad.

Many young couples are nervous about having children. Will I be a good parent? Will I make the right decisions? What will we do if this happens? We were no different before our first was born, but for Bill there was an added challenge. He had come from an abusive family, and he was determined that his children knew he loved them and cared about them. When Rebekah was born, he learned to change diapers (even though it grossed him out) and played his guitar for her. The two of them would dance wildly to "The Cover of the Rolling Stone." 

He had an intuition about his kids when they were sick. When Rebekah was 4, she developed a cough and squeaky voice in the middle of the night. I would have toughed it out until morning, but Bill took her to the ER, and that decision saved her life. She had epiglottitis (a disease they vaccinate for now) and was in ICU for several days.  He sat in the ER for hours with Ruth while she received ventolin masks for her asthma. He always seemed to know when it was time to get help. 

More than anything, he wanted his kids to know he loved them. When Ruth was part of a gymnastics family day, he attended, even though he was in the throes of a kidney stone attack. We left near the end, but almost didn't make it home. I wasn't driving at that time, and maneuvering a  vehicle while in extreme pain is a challenge. But he wanted to be there. He and Ben went to out of town gymnastics meets, and made some great memories. 

And he was proud of his kids! He always downplayed his own accomplishments, and was never convinced he was great at anything--even the guitar. But his kids--Rebekah's art and her skill at thinking and reasoning, and Ruth's poetry and her ability to making friends, Ben's gymnastics talent and his easy-going personality--all of these would be the topic of late night conversations. He loved each of them for who they were and who they were becoming.

Nobody gets it right all the time. Both Bill and my Dad made lots of mistakes. We all do. The small miracle is that, by God's grace and with His help, we do get it right, and have an indelible influence on the lives of our children.

So today, this Father's Day, I pay tribute to you both. Daddy, you were a good father. You gave me a legacy of working hard and making something of myself. 

Bill, you loved your kids, and they love you. What greater testimony is that to a life well lived?

Happy Father's Day.

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