The Greatest Love I Almost Never Knew

24 01 2016

I thought Kevin was like me, growing up without a father. I was surprised when I found Rock _nout he had one since he never spoke of one and I never met him. As time went on I learned his dad worked a job that took him away from home for long periods of time, and when he was there no one was allowed over because he needed peace and quiet when he came in off the road. As the years went on, the divide between the two became even broader. He once told me he’d get excited when dad was finally going to be home; but it wouldn’t last long because he’d be so tired from the road all he would do is sleep or watch television. By the time he was a teenager, Kevin didn’t make the effort to home when his dad was there, said he didn’t see any real reason to. You see Kevin and his father weren’t bad people; it just seemed (at least to Kevin) that his dad was just too busy to have a relationship, and since they didn’t have anything in common there was no reason to ever work toward one. No hard feelings, just an acceptance of the facts the way Kevin saw them. This loose relationship would stay that way for nearly 30 years.

Kevin grew, married and had his own family. Unfortunately the marriage didn’t last and he found himself a middle-aged man living alone in a small apartment. That is until he received a phone call one day that totally surprised him; it was his dad. His mother had passed away a few years earlier and his father retired from being a long haul trucker. But the years on the road had caused severe damage to his spine that made it difficult for him to walk even from room to room in his house. I’m calling, son, to see if you’d like to come live here with me. The house is going to be yours someday anyway and I could use a little help if you wouldn’t mind.” His dad’s request caught him so off guard he didn’t know what to say. “How to I talk to a dad in my 40s that I couldn’t talk to as a kid,” he thought.

But something told him he couldn’t say no, so a week later he was packed up and back to the home he knew as a child. There was much work to be done around the place since his dad couldn’t care for it the way that was needed. Besides it would give him something to do since the two of them probably wouldn’t be spending any real time together.

The first couple of weeks Kevin would go out in the evening to visit old friends and haunts from his younger days. Every night when he got home he’d see his dad in the front room watching television. A few quick words and he’d walk past and head to his room. Then one evening he noticed something, as soon as he would get in, his dad would turn off the TV and go to his room. The next evening he asked him if was waiting up for him. “Well sure,” he responded. “You may be grown up, but I just feel better knowing you got in safe. Besides I was hoping one of these evenings when you got home we could talk.”
Talk? Now that took Kevin by surprise. They’d never talked when he was young, what would they have to talk about now. “Okay let’s talk,” Kevin started. “Do you know how much mom and I needed you around here, but you never were?” His dad lowered his head and quietly said “Yeah, I know. When I got home from the war I got the job trucking and really liked it. When I met your mother I thought about quitting, but I was afraid I wouldn’t find anything else I was good at. Your mother encouraged me to keep driving because she knew I loved it. But that’s not to say I didn’t love her or you any less.

Kevin sat motionless for several minutes taking in what his dad had just told him. “He loved me!” he thought. Those words had never been said before that moment. And then Kevin realized something, it wasn’t because his father didn’t care or love him that they weren’t close when he was little; it was because he just never knew how to say or even show it to him like most do. But in that short moment he came to realize it was always there.

“To love someone means to put them ahead of ourselves, just as Christ did for each of us.” J. David Miller

Kevin’s dad knew he wasn’t able to be there and give warmth and security; he left that to his wife who was more suited. His job as he saw it was to provide all that would be needed to have a life and home, by that he showed how much he loved his family.

Kevin once told me that all he ever wanted was to have a dad that cared for him; and because of his stubborn ways he almost missed knowing he had one. Awesome!
For the next several months they talked and carried on like a couple of long lost friends. You’d see them out to dinner or taking in a ball game. But Kevin’s best moments with his dad were when they just sat and talked. “I found this week the old man fought at Guadalcanal during WW2” he told me one day. “Showed me where took a bullet to the leg and shoulder. He’s a tough old bird my dad!”  I wasn’t there when the end came for Kevin’s dad, but he did know the Lord, so another “Traveler of the Rock Road” made it home.

Sometime after, Kevin was going through a large satchel his dad always carried with him on the road. In it were pictures of Kevin, from the time he was born and all through his life. With a smile he would say, “Those pictures told me I was always with my dad after all.

“A father is neither an anchor to hold us back, nor a sail to take us there, but a guiding light whose love shows us the way.”

Written for a friend

See ya next time.


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