Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Father (as in paternal parent, not God) (04/10/08)
TITLE: My Father Never Said, 'I love you.'
By Helen Dowd
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Anyone who knew my dad would have to agree: He was "different." He was either liked very much by people, or extremely disliked. He would do many eccentric and on-the-spur-of-the-moment things, that would often embarrass us and make us--and Mom cringe.
Although my father was rather “slap-dash” in his ways, and would often be careless in how he did things, he was not sloppy. He believed in keeping things neat, as neat as was possible in the humble home in which we lived.
My father taught me to trust in the Lord at all times. He taught me that money is not important, that faith is. He taught me to hide God’s Word in my heart.
My father passed on to me, generosity, faith, perseverance and diligence. He taught me that “where duty lies, or danger, be never wanting there.” One time when I was working at a summer job, the family was going to do something fun, but I had to go to work. I suggested that maybe I could take a ‘sick day.’ That’s when my father quoted me that line about “where duty lies, etc.” Reluctantly I went to work and have never regretted that I was spared from lying, just to do something pleasurable.
My father taught me love. I do not remember my father ever saying, “I love you.” He didn’t have to. Actions speak louder than words. I never once doubted my father’s love. He would have died for any one of his children, if the need had arisen. My father was a great disciplinarian. His word was law. For breaking his law there was always punishment. But I am thankful that Dad loved us enough to discipline us. Whenever punishment was administered, it was done in love. Then he would always pray with us afterwards.
I will never forget this about my father. I used to have very bad nightmares. I would be afraid that Jesus had come and I was left. I would stand at the top of the stairs in the middle of the night, afraid to go down, for fear that Mom and Dad had been raptured, and I had been left behind. Finally I would get the nerve to call timidly for Dad. He always heard me and came up to my room, kneeling with me and praying, until I had the assurance that Jesus had truly saved me, as I had asked Him to do, at the age of 8.
My father had a great big heart! He would literally give the shirt off his back to help out his fellow man. He would pick up hitchhikers and bring them home, feed them, sometimes sober them up, preach to them, give them a bed for the night and send them on their way with a little red, “Gospel of John.”
We never questioned his judgment as children, but often, as we became older we wished he would be “like other fathers,” but none of us ever dared to express it. None of us ever talked back to Dad—at least not out loud. We wouldn’t dare--until we became adults.
My father was proud of, respected, and prayed for all of his children. Due to his prayer and influence, my two oldest sisters became missionaries, and his son went into mission work in this country. His second youngest daughter was/is an amazing mother, and his youngest daughter is a fantastic pianist. I became a writer and wrote a family story, from notes I had gotten from him. He was still alive when I was working on the manuscript, and in his senility, when I read him parts of it, he said, “That is exactly like it happened. How did you know?” He had forgotten that he had given me the information on his and mom’s early married life.
My father was easy to talk to about doctrine, or the Bible, or missions or things like that, but there were some topics that he never discussed, and that was anything to do with the ‘facts of life. In our days, talk of ‘sex’ or ‘facts of life’ was a ‘taboo’ subject.
I am glad that I had the father I had. He was like no other—one of a kind.
Dad raised four other sons by a second wife, after our mother passed away.
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