Every time I go back to Vancouver Island I get caught off guard by how nostalgic and homesick I am for my childhood home and how I especially miss my parents. My mother died in 1990 after a short battle with breast cancer at the age of 63 and my father passed away in 1999 at the age of 76. Driving around Victoria, seeing all the sights I still remember so well having grown up on the Island, I am transported back in time reminiscing about days gone by. I remember vividly my home in Sooke and the turbulent teen years there when my mother acted as a buffer between my father and me. I was the rebellious teen, knowing exactly which buttons to push with my father and he always reacted exactly as I knew he would. It was a battle of wills between us, neither of us bending. After my mom passed away, he threatened to move to Calgary to be closer to his two children (my brother and I) and having had little to no meaningful relationship with my father, I was very trepidatious about him moving closer to me. After all, I had purposefully left Vancouver Island as a newlywed and, if I were brutally honest, to get away from my domineering father.
However, God had an amazing plan for my father and I.
Dad struggled with a variety of health issues before and immediately following my mother’s passing and I found myself being a reluctant care giver to him on several occasions. Shortly after Mom died, Dad suffered a heart attack and I dutifully flew out to Victoria to be with him as he recovered. It would be our first Christmas without Mom. He had told me in the hospital that he wasn’t sure he could face the season with so many memories attached to the whole holiday. Christmas was always my mother’s favourite time of year.
I don’t know why I did it, but I decided to buy a little artificial tree and decorate his townhouse with new ornaments that had no “memories” attached to them yet. I picked him up from the hospital knowing I might be facing a verbal backlash from him. I wasn’t sure what his reaction would be, he was always so negative whenever I did anything, so I was very uneasy as he stepped through the door to see what I had done. Still weak from heart surgery, Dad gasped at the decorations and the tiny tree I’d stood on a side table in the living room and his eyes filmed over with tears. “You don’t know how much this means to me, Lynn,” he said. “This is perfect. I feel like I can get through Christmas now without your mom here. You’ve made this Christmas special just for me.”
It was the first step to our healing process.
When Dad recovered and decided to move to Calgary, I was surprised how much I enjoyed my Dad visiting us and spending time with his grandchildren. For nine years after my mother’s death, my father and I had ample opportunity to talk, to confess, and to build a relationship together. In that time, with a lot of help from God, we were able to heal the hurts between us and foster the kind of father-daughter relationship I had always dreamed of having with him.
Dad came to know Jesus as his personal Lord and Saviour during those nine years of healing between he and I. God had a plan for that too.
My Dad, the Little Viking, as his friends called him was a character in every sense of the word. He loved a good laugh, a good joke and could start up a conversation with any one he met. He had the “gift of the gab” and loved to people watch. I think of my Dad often and I miss his smile and his quirky sense of humour. I miss the sound of his laughter and the way he giggled at his grandchildren’s antics; how he would nap anytime and anywhere if given the opportunity. I miss my Dad terribly…yes…even more than I miss my mother. I miss Dad, but I know I will see him again some day when we meet again in Heaven and what a Father’s Day that will be!
God’s plan always works out for good.