The Gift of Fatherhood

16 01 2012

ImageThe righteous man walks in his integrity; his children are blessed after him. Proverbs 20:7

Most days around the old Miller Manor are quiet. With the exception of the kids coming home, a few friends dropping by or the grandchildren staying overnight; it’s generally my Lady and me and a little furry pooch to make three.  But there was a time our little abode was teeming with life and overflowing with young people.  Granted, we only had three kids (a daughter and two sons), but many days, if you didn’t know who we were, you would have been hard pressed to figure out how many kids actually lived here.  On more occasions than I can remember we had a house full bedded down anywhere and everywhere they cold find room to lie.  The next morning would find me in the kitchen making more food for breakfast than what you’d see on an army base, especially when Justin, our youngest had all his football buddies (a group we lovingly named, the Buffalos!) stay over.  I’d keep cooking just to see how much it took to fill those guys; whoa!

Those were some interesting days, at times they drove me nuts, at times it drove me to side splitting laughter and there were even times it drove me to tears; and I wouldn’t have missed a minute of it for the world.  Now I know there are a lot of homes that opened their doors like we did to young people, but for me, who wasn’t even sure he wanted kids, well it’s saying a little I believe on how God changed my heart.  There were two stumbling blocks in my way to whether or not I wanted the responsibility of fatherhood.  The 1st was my dream to be a full time musician and I just didn’t see that life style conducive to bringing up children.  The 2nd was the hard, cold fact that since I never had a father I couldn’t fathom any thoughts of what I might have to offer a child.  (I thank God that fatherhood is not based on how well you’re equipped, but how willing you are to fill the position.)  Anyway, I’m thankful God had a better plan for this man that he could see.  Even during the times that, shall we say, added the most gray to my dome. 

With our daughter Jamie (Sunshine) she was always bringing strays home; not animals, but people! I lost count of all the ones she brought to us who didn’t have a place to stay.  Some of those situations worked out well where a few that spent time here still refer to us as mom and dad.  Then there’s a few others that were good to some extent that I’m sure we’ll hear from again someday (that is, when they’re sure the statue of limitations has run out on what they ripped from off us).  Still gotta love ‘em!  Then there’s our middle child, Jeremy (Scoot).  He was the one gifted with the highest level of sensitivity of the group (probably contributed to him becoming a musician and writer.)  But he was also the one who would surprise us constantly with, well, style changes like dying his hair every color of the rainbow.  (I think my favorite was the bright blue!)  Then there was the baby, Justin (Boo).  Most kids 1st words are “mama” of “dada.”  Justin’s was “NO!” Justin Michael did not learn to walk as a toddler, he went straight to running, usually trying to get away from his latest misadventure like the time he started a fire — in his trashcan — in his room.  One of the most memorable acts that involved me in my son’s antics was the time we invested in a soda can crusher.  It was connected to a post in the garage and it had a handle.  The objective was to place the can on the crusher, then bare down on the handle with a quick force. The container was smashed to a height of about ½ an inch.  The kids loved to bring me cans and watch how quickly I could crush them.  Jamie would be 1st placing the can in the crusher; Bang! Instant metal pancake.  Then Jeremy would take his turn; Bang! Flatten like a stone!  One day Justin took his turn with a big smile saying, “Here dad, crush this one.”  Loving to show off for the kids I pressed down with all my might; on a can that was still half full of pop!  You got it, Splash! I was instantly baptized in RC Cola!  (Took me 3 blocks to catch him that day!)  These are some of the small, insignificant moments, but I confess there were times I was tried to the point that I didn’t know if  could go on in this role I found myself in; that I questioned whether or not I was truly called to be a father, a dad;  that all changed one fateful night. 

The call came and Cathy and I found ourselves at the hospital in the middle of the night.  Justin was lying on a gurney, covered head to toe with blood, cuts and bruises.  He and four other young people were in a car accident where Justin was thrown through the windshield; one boy died instantly.  If there’s ever a moment you’re questioning whether you should be a parent, it’s not at a moment such as that.  Your only thought is “God, please take care of my child or take me instead him!”

“Making the decision to have a child is momentous.  It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.”

We all make mistakes along the road of parenting, but there’s no mistake in whether or not you were called to be one if you look at it in the proper light.  For parenting is one of the greatest privileges God bestows on us, entrusting us with the gift of children, the opportunity to train up the next generation in the way they should go.  The decision then becomes how precious you see and treat the gift bestowed on you.  For this man and his Lady, well it has given a couple of only children a legacy two more generations deep now and growing.  That’s some of the best fruit of children I love so deeply, grandchildren!

Justin called the other day from Indy, totally frustrated. “Dad, I can’t seem to keep Mae happy!  All she wants to do is scream, about to pull my hair out!”  With a gentle smile on my face I assured him everything is going to be okay, but on the inside, I was thinking a commercial I’ve seen on TV. “Payback, this time it’s for real!” ;o)


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