The rock skipped effortlessly across the water. “How do you do that?” I asked as I dug up a mossy, flat rock. My husband smiled and shook his head. “You hold it right, and give it some power. Bring your whole arm back and then let it slide off your thumb and forefinger.” I look down and see my five-year old girl listening hard. She’s digging, too, looking for the perfect rock. With a quick glance at the littlest one (still watching tiny frogs hopping in between the damp rocks), I position the rock and swing my arm back and let rock slide. I watch as the rock skips once, twice. With a sharp inhale, I turn and see him grin at me. He turns his head back to the five-year old who is unhappy that I did it and she has yet to get one to skip.
She turns her face downward into a perfect mope and says, “Mine only plop.” Her daddy encourages lots of practice and explains again how to do it. I ponder my childhood. My dad taught me lots of things. But never to skip rocks. There isn’t time to teach everything, I think. He did teach me to throw a frisbee, water ski, snow ski, drive a car, drive a stick-shift, change a tire, check my oil, anti-freeze, wiper fluids, clean a car inside and out. Boy, can I armor-all a tire. You should see it. He’s a car-guy. It’s his thing. Dad also taught me how a gentleman should behave towards me, about safety, and most important of all is a relationship with God.
We fought a lot. Especially after my folks divorced. That’s when I saw him break. For weeks afterward, I couldn’t stand to see him. He would weep all the time. My 13-year-old self couldn’t digest the sorrow he was experiencing. Plus, I had my own sorrow and I was angry. We weaved through this pain and came out all right. I know I wasn’t easy to father with all that junk he was sifting through in his own life. But, he loved me well. A few months ago, he told me how proud he was of me, how brave he thought I was, how I had accomplished things that surprised him. Blessings from fathers are like rivers to thirst in a child. Even an adult-child. If you are a father, bless today. It is a gift you get to give.
We leave the rocks and climb the hill to the “island.” It does feel secluded when you get to where the land meets the river. The littlest one struggles through branches. “I can’t,” she says. He takes her hand and leads her through. “You can,” he pushes.
We sit. Our two dogs circle around us tangling leashes and causing us to shelter the little girls from falling in the water. “Be careful,” my husband says, “If you fall in, the river will carry you off and you’ll be in a bad situation.” “You could drown,” I say in my motherly tone. “Then I would die,” the five-year old says. “You could,” I say. My husband frowns. “That’s ok, Daddy, because I want to go to heaven! I really do. Then I get to be with Jesus,” she reassures. My mouth falls open. I’m speechless. My husband clears his throat and says, “You have to wait your turn, Lydia. It’s not your turn. You have lots of things to do first. Only God knows when it’s your turn. For now, you just live.” “Okay,” she says lightly and moves to go back to the rocks. Just like that. We stare at each other. I turn to follow her. I’m so glad he is the father of my children.
So, we just live. Live our turn. Wait our turn. Love our turn. Bless our turn. Thanks be to God for this turn.
May God bless our fathers today.
May they share that blessing with their children.