Happy Father’s Day everyone. Hope it was an absolutely awesome day for you. It was for me too. I shared it with the two most important men in my life, my husband and son.
I miss sharing Father’s Day with my dad. It was always a big event, with cake and gifts, just like a birthday. Some years Father’s Day fell on my parents anniversary, June 19, just like this year. I am sure that is why the big celebrations began. Between the two events, it just became normal to have cake and gifts on both days.
Daddy was an Episcopal priest, who understood the love of Christ. Not only was he the father of five, he was everyone’s dad. His nick name was Pappa J. His close relationships made it impossible for some to call him Reverend, and yet his community standing demanded respect, so Pappa J became the accepted form of compromise. He had a very charismatic personality and you could feel yourself being wrapped up with his love.
Our large family grew up in this huge house located right next to dad’s church. To us kids, it seemed like a mansion. There were three floors, with three bathrooms and four oversized bedrooms. So it shouldn’t be surprising when I tell you we often had people living with us. Mostly we had college students, and on occasion airmen from the local AF Base. But one day we had a man knock on our front door who insisted my father take in his young daughter. She was about my age and looked so sad. Her father and my father talked for a long time before my dad agreed to take her in.
The girl’s name was Sandra. For months she didn’t hear from her dad and I thought I was going to get another sister (I already had three). She told us horrifying stories about how her mother had beat her and abused her in the most awful ways. Her mom died in a fire and now her father seemed to have left her too. She cried all the time. My mom and dad tried so hard to fill in the voids but most days she was inconsolable.
The situation actually made my dad angry. He didn’t want to be saddled with another child, especially when the agreement he and Sandra’s father came to was that it was a temporary arrangement. My dad could have taken her to Social Services and just dropped her off, but he couldn’t bring himself to add insult to injury. Three months past, then six months. No sight of Sandra’s dad. Then a year past. Finally Sandra’s father came back to get her. He had needed all that time for emotional healing and to get his own life back together again before he felt equipped to be a dad to his daughter. Sandra was elated and she soon moved into an apartment her dad had rented, right across the street from the church. They stayed there long enough for Sandra to readjust to living with her dad. We have never heard from her since she moved away.
Looking back on it now gives me the shivers. It took a whole bunch of faith to take in the child of a complete stranger and then keep her long past the time her dad said he was going to come back. But my dad knew Jesus very well and trusted that everything would work out for the best. I don’t know how much longer he would have let Sandra stay with us, all I know is he let her stay long enough. He was a great dad who loved everyone and everyone loved him.
Love and peace,