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Topic: Teachers (07/12/04)
TITLE: Kitchen Classroom
By darlene hight
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We didn’t know it but the kitchen table was, in fact, his classroom. Eight children, his students, sat enraptured by his tales. My mom held the position of teachers’ aide. She maintained order. Occasionally, my grandmother sat in on our classes like a visiting principal.
At the kitchen table, my dad sparked my love affair with words. While reading through my term paper on ‘Tornadoes’, he showed me how to make the paper come alive instead of droning with facts copied from the encyclopedia. To this day, I remember the opening line of that term paper ‘What force has the power to drive a straw through the base of a tree? Drop an entire pond of frogs on an unsuspecting town?
It was at my kitchen table in Reading, PA, twenty years later, I received the call that broke my heart. My sister phoned with grim news from the doctors’ visit. “Dad has terminal lung cancer. He will only be with us a few more months, a year at best.”
I arranged for a trip back home. It was a good visit with dad, although, bitter sweet. Money was tight. I knew that I wouldn’t be able to make many trips back home to see him. I would need to depend on my family to keep me informed as to his condition.
During the long drive home, my thoughts plagued me, “I’m never going to see my dad again.” I longed to be able to curl up next to him, forever. But instead, the thought, “I’m going to lose my dad.” Tears fell, a heavy blanket of gray covered me and an indescribable pain filled my heart. I wanted to be mad at God but I didn’t think that I could carry myself through this without His help. I understood Jesus’ cry “Abba!” My own heart cried “Daddy!”
The week after I arrived back home, I received another call, this time from my dad.
“Darlene, I want to come visit you ”, he said. “Dad, it’s a twelve hour trip.” I reminded him
“I’m coming ”, he said determined, adding, “Unless, you don’t want me to?” All I could do was cry.
He made the trip. It took a lot out of him. He had things that he wanted to tell me. He wanted to see where I lived. He said, “ When you write your novel, you should use Reading as your setting. This place is perfect!” He told me that he was proud of me. I knew that. I knew that my whole life.
My dad was the best teacher that I ever had. He believed in me and because of that I could believe in myself. He showed me with gentleness how to reach for my best. He loved people and life. His last visit is one of the greatest treasures of my life. Dad made the trip but I know that it was God that gave him the desire and the fortitude to make it.
After the death of Isaac’s mother, God sent comfort to Isaac by giving him Rebekah, his wife. Likewise, God gave me a precious memory to hold in my heart as He tenderly took my dad from hands that didn’t want to let go. The next time I see my dad, I hope it is across from the banquet table when I get to heaven.
Matthew 6:8b your Father knows what you need before you ask him