Note: My sister and I wrote our own little article for my Dad and gave it to him for his birthday. Here's mine...
Today, we are celebrating my Dad's birthday! And it's always a challenge to figure out what to get him for a gift because he has everything, and of course, he can buy whatever he wants when he wants it!
So we're buying him dinner and giving him some small gifts he might enjoy - nothing too exciting. But my real gift is to tell him what a gift he is to me.
The idea of writing this came to me a few weeks ago when I had taken my Dad to an appointment for a procedure he was having done. The procedure only took about 20 minutes, and he felt perfectly normal when he was done, but they recommended he have someone to drive him home, so I went along to drive him back home.
Our destination was 30 minutes away, and the appointment was at 1pm. This meant that we'd be driving home right in the middle of rush hour traffic. The smart thing to do is to get on the Fastrack toll lane to bypass the traffic jam. But for me...well, in the past, I've battled anxiety and/or panic attacks when I drive. And the Fastrack is a separate lane on the far left of the freeway, which makes it difficult to "pull over" if you need to. So I usually just sit in traffic, in the slow lane, with the comfort of knowing that I can pull over if I start feeling funky. So I was a little worried that I might have to make my mom and dad sit in traffic for hours to accommodate my anxieties.
But on that day, I felt pretty good. And I feel pretty comfortable with my mom and dad. But still, the thought of the possibility of the panic attack was in the back of my mind. I was a little embarrassed that I might have to tell my Dad, "Uh...I don't wanna feel anxious so I'm gonna make you sit in traffic for a couple of hours. Hope you don't mind".
So I nervously said, "Um.. I cant quite decide if I want to get on the Fastrak or not". I said this to feel them out...to see what they thought. (Yes, I have to do this even though I've known them for 43 years!)
My mom says, "Do whatever you feel comfortable doing. If you feel like getting on the Fastrrak, go ahead, I f you don't feel comfortable, just take the regular freeway."
And she meant that.
My Dad said, "Do whatever you want, Mija. We're in no hurry".
And he meant that.
And you know what? Any feelings of anxiety that I had were removed by the fact that their only concern was for me to feel comfortable. I hopped on the toll lane and felt perfectly fine, because I felt no pressure. The only thing that mattered to them was that I felt ok.
As I thought about that, I realized that their response that day was a pretty accurate representation of them. They are always fully accepting of me and they love me despite all my "issues" and weirdness. All they want is for me to be happy. Total patience. Unconditional acceptance.
I’m 43 years old. I am married. I have two kids. I am in the wonderful position to look at my life and appreciate the really important things. As you probably know, when you are a teenager, you don't always appreciate the things and people you should appreciate.
My sister - she was kind of a mellow sort. Not much trouble. But I'm sure I tried my Dad's patience a lot more since I was a bit more trouble! But I've always known that there was nothing I could do where I couldn't come to my Dad for help.
He is also a great Grandpa. He is funny, wise, loving, generous, patient, forgiving. I know that my boys love him with all their hearts!
Aside from him being a wonderful father and grandfather, I can also say that he is great man. I see people come to him for all kinds of help. I've seen him get taken advantage of. But that never makes him bitter. He keeps on helping people and giving them chances to do better. Since we've lived in CA, my parents' home has been a refuge to a lot of people. Some have appreciated it. Some haven’t'. But they never stop being available to their friends and family.
This is why, when I hear that God is my "father", the image I get is of a loving God who loves me, despite myself. Not everyone can say that.
Just want to say Happy Birthday Dad. I love and appreciate you more than you can ever know!