On this Father’s Day, like pretty much every day, I am thanking God for my dad and for the gift of his presence in my life.
On sunny afternoons, my dad taught me how to field ground balls and throw a frisbee. In a steamy bathroom, he taught me how to shave—and how to stop the bleeding! In his 59-year marriage to my mother, he taught me how to love, respect, and cherish a woman (and how to be loved, respected, and cherished BY a woman). With his quick and sharp wit, he taught me about the sacramental nature of laughter and the value of discerning the comedic in everyday life. In some of our less successful outings at the Pinewood Derby, he taught me that losing graciously is every bit as important as winning graciously. As a man of deep faith, he taught me about Jesus and his saving grace. As an ordained pastor in the United Methodist tradition, he taught me what it means to serve the church with integrity and vision. Through his discipleship, he taught me about the urgency of making certain that there is consistency between the way in which I worship and the way in which I live.
My dad’s impeccable memory has always been one of his most impressive resources—up until now, that is. These days, he finds himself in the depths of Alzheimer’s Disease and its deteriorative effects. It is becoming more and more difficult for him to remain focused during sustained conversations. He is gun-shy about asking questions around the dinner table, fearing that he has perhaps already asked the question once or twice before. Those of you who have been through this kind of thing probably understand the realities that I am describing.
It has been a painful experience for Dad and Mom and our family. Dad and Mom, however, are facing the challenge with courage, grace, and a beautifully vibrant sense of humor. They are grateful to have one another. They are also grateful for their relationship with a Savior whose grace is sufficient both in seasons of health and seasons of struggle.
As a songwriter, I tend to unpack my emotional baggage through music. Some time ago, I wrote a song about my dad’s condition. I recorded the song with my wife, Tara, and gave it to my dad as a gift. It was probably one of the most heartfelt gifts that I ever offered to him.
The chorus of the song includes these words:
I’ll remember for you when you forget
Your noble legacy demands nothing less
Don’t think me burdened by this sign of respect
It’s an honor to remember for you when you forget
On this Father’s Day, I am praying a prayer of thanksgiving for my dad; for the million-and-one ways in which his fatherhood has blessed my life; and for the privilege in recent days of remembering for him when he forgets.
I am also praying a prayer of thanksgiving for a Heavenly Father, whose grace is sufficient for every need and whose presence brings sustenance, even on the long road of Alzheimer’s Disease.