My dad and I are a lot alike. We love to be right. We’re good at giving advice but don’t often want to take it. We love with our whole hearts but build tough exteriors to keep from getting hurt. We both love a well told story. We have an opinion about everything but won’t always voice it to you. (Sometimes we save it to tell each other.) Our biting sense of humor isn’t for everyone but it sure is for us. We don’t see eye to eye on everything and sometimes we drive each other crazy. Even so, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Our adventures together are infinite. If it was dove season, I would climb in my dad’s truck at an ungodly hour of the morning, bleary-eyed and book in hand because I knew when the sun went down he’d barbecue at the lease and that isn’t a treat to be missed.
He taught me to shoot empty Gatorade bottles with a little .410 pump-action shotgun. I missed a lot and he laughed a lot. He taught me how to keep my eye on the target and his laughter changed from sheer amusement to pride when I finally hit the bright orange bottle cap. One day we waited for birds that never flew and got drenched in the rain that kept them in the trees. We didn’t shoot anything that day but the memory is one of my favorites.
When I was 11, my dad let me drive his truck for the first time around a circle of tractors and then three years later he continued the driving lessons on the edge of a canal. Imagine me, 14, white-knuckled, and cruising at a whopping three miles an hour while my dad sat next to me chuckling and grinning from ear to ear saying, “Don’t fall in!” every few seconds.
I once — twice, three times a lady — had a really terrible boyfriend who would often announce that no girlfriend of his would ever get a tattoo if he had anything to say about it. The day after that inevitable breakup, my dad held my hand while I got my first tattoo.
My dad and I have made innumerable memories. He is the best of the best. And while these are very rough and tumble adventure moments, one seemingly mundane anecdote keeps popping up in my mind.
I was about seven years old. I remember it was close to bedtime. I took a bath, got into my pajamas, and asked my dad to braid my hair. He obliged. I sat down in front of him and with his hard-worked hands he gently combed my hair, plaited it down my back, and secured it with a rubber band. Then he gave me a hug and a kiss and sent me to bed.
That’s it. That’s the whole memory. It isn’t even a story. It’s barely a paragraph. There is no rising action, no tension, no denouement. Just a dad, a daughter, and a braid. It wasn’t the only braid he ever braided, but this one instance stands out in my mind.
I’ve been thinking about why this memory is so vivid to me. I have this adventuresome dad who I do all the adventurous things with, but there was such a kindness in the simple gesture of combing my hair. He didn’t say no and he didn’t say tell your mom. He did it because I asked him to and because he loves me.
It occurred to me that this small moment is a beautiful picture of what God wants us to experience in relationship with Him. As much as God is surely in the miracle moments of our lives and can be our rescuer in times of trouble, He wants to be more than a first responder. He wants to be our Father. He wants to share the quiet spaces in our lives. He wants us to laugh and love and commune with Him. That is how we build relationship. One memory at a time.
Dad, there are so many more stories to tell. Thank you for continuing to make memories with me.
Happy Birthday Daddy. I sure do love you.