By Roxanne Smith
Of the many things that my disability has caused me to miss in the past 24 years, being unable to travel to say goodbye to my dad and to attend his funeral has been one of the hardest. We had been able to visit him at Christmas, but that trip had caused me months of extra pain. Traveling again, six months later, was simply too difficult.
My parents, like many of their friends in Iowa, raised children who then left the state for better job opportunities. As a result, all five of their adult children live far away.
We did our best to visit Mom and Dad. We redoubled our efforts after mom died 16 months ago. We were very concerned about Dad…becoming a widower after 67 years of marriage isn’t the easiest thing.
I loved my dad very much. We were quite similar in personality and temperament. Before I became disabled at age 27, we did many fun trips together. I have great memories of hiking in the Rocky Mountains with Dad and my younger brother Pete. We had snowball fights on a Canadian glacier in June. We fished for rainbow trout in Montana with our older brother Steve.
Dad also introduced us five kids to his love for nature. He loved collecting butterflies, and identifying trees and birds. One summer we watched as a giant Cecropia Moth emerged from its cocoon on our backyard fence. It was so beautiful! The wingspan was over four inches.
Dad’s garden was legendary. He never gave up his secret for growing six foot tall tomato plants. I don’t think he’d mind if I told you now. Dad brought a trashcan full of manure from the country every summer to fertilize his tomatoes!
The thing I love my dad the most for is the way he loved me as my father. When I was very young, he held me and Pete on his lap when he read to us. He took us sledding in the country where he would steer so we could ride faster than we could alone. When I had occasional insomnia, he didn’t mind if I woke him up so he could tell me a boring, repetitive story in a soft voice until I fell asleep. What a comfort!
The thing I love my dad the most for is the way he loved me as my father.
So when Dad introduced me to God as my heavenly Father, it seemed natural to believe him. God loved me. I trusted what Dad said. Why wouldn’t I? He had my very best interests at heart.
Later, I learned that God’s love for me wouldn’t spare me from many kinds of hardship in life. Being disabled, for one. Missing my sister’s wedding, for another. And now, missing my father’s funeral.
But it’s OK. Because I know what it is to be loved…truly loved. And whether you’ve had a good father or a not so good one, God is there for you, too. He’s the only perfect Father. He sent Jesus to save us from the fallout of this broken world and our own brokenness.
And the best news? The best news is that I’ll see my dad again! Not suffering from heart failure and a broken down body like the last time I saw him at Christmas, but young, whole, and happier than he’s ever been. When I see Dad, I won’t be disabled any more—I’ll be able to climb mountains and go sledding and fishing with my dad again. In the new heaven, and on the new earth.
When I see Dad, I won’t be disabled any more—I’ll be able to climb mountains and go sledding and fishing with my dad again. In the new heaven, and on the new earth.
That gives me patience and hope, to look for the good things in this life and to persevere through the hard things. Like my dad did.