I have to admit that as one gets older birthday celebrations aren’t that important or you want to totally pretend they don’t happen. As I celebrated my 56 birthday it was a strange week. My mom and I share the same birthday. Since my mom has been gone for 2 years my birthday is both a day to remember, mourn and celebrate. I really was hurting on the morning of my birthday and decided to have breakfast with a friend at my favorite place, Matt’s Big Breakfast. It was rather interesting looking back that Ernie, a she and the owner, recognized that I wasn’t my normal loud and laughing self. I tried to put on a face that said hey I’m ok but she saw through it.
What made this week rather strange was a call from my dad who is in crisis because of missing his lady and the reality that life alone ‘sucks’. He talked with Anne for an hour and truly believed that he would be arrested and in jail before the end of the month and that our president had it out for him. Anne calls me to alert me to the fact that dad was hurting and that I had better give him a call. So I quickly call him and end up listening for an hour about his mess. I had a difficult time not being able to get him to answer the why questions as to what had happened that put him in the panic mode.
After listening and being told that I hadn’t listened and shouldn’t talk I was emotionally drained and ready to curl up on the couch with my ipod to veg. It was a busy week for me because of back-to-back weeks with special meetings out of town. I have always tried to be respectful to my dad and listen as best as possible. As we have all aged I find it difficult to listen to someone when they talk in circles and seem to not totally see the bigger picture. I write this to express my love and concern for my dad and see this as a prayer to better understand the practical mechanics of being there for my father. We ended up arguing about the present presidential crisis and how I believed that one person wasn’t going to bring the world to an end or at least not our president.
We ended the conversation exhausted after an hour. I admit that I am a fixer type of guy who doesn’t want to walk away without having a solution. I am learning, not readily, that God wants us to trust him with the future and not get bent out of shape when there really isn’t a quick fix or a 1, 2, 3 process. I drove all night to get to San Diego to visit with my dad. I know in the past I would have high expectations to do something that would show me progress for my dad that was totally selfish. I go to visit with him and hope to get at least one thing accomplished that would make my mom happy. I am fearful that I might be a clone of my dad and become incapable of listening and accepting help from those who love you the most. It is easy to stand in judgment at present but know when I am 80 I will probably be worse because I will believe that I have the spiritual insight of a sage and all should listen and jump at what I have to offer.
I truly believe that the commandments do have real life implications. I know that sitting and listening to my dad go on about his past, when I was born, his lady and his bomber squadron can become wearisome but I need to see this as a window into my dad’s heart. Why is it that you could listen and love on the stranger but not with your own father? I do miss my mom who was the buffer zone and glue for the family. It is so difficult to understand my dad without mom being there to be his interpreter. Yet, I know that I love my dad because he blessed me with the gift of loving life, learning and being faithful to my wife and family. Lord, I need your supernatural strength to hang out with my dad today and be better equipped to be a son that adores his father.