Yesterday was my father's birthday. My memories of him have been in and out of my thoughts all week. It's been almost two years since he died and though it seems strange to me, I still find it hard to believe that he's really gone.
I was the first-born in my family and growing up, we had an interesting relationship. When I was little, I was scared of him. He was the disciplinarian that my mother would threaten us with. I still remember the sound of his leather belt snapping together. When I was a teenager, as long as I behaved, I was given a lot of freedom, a car and his trust. (Though it was undeserved in some ways, I'll admit.) But I also watched him have an affair with a woman in our town and hid when he was strung out on cocaine. When I was in college, he hated that I had become a Christian and we went for several years that were tense. Then, as he began to realize that Christ wasn't something I was going to walk away from, he developed a respect for the person I was becoming. He, of course, wanted to take the credit for me turning out the way I did.
We had a tough relationship - but I loved him dearly. He was diagnosed with cancer when he suddenly starting having major symptoms. It was too late by the time they found it. He died less than four weeks later.
As hard as that was, I must admit that when I look back at my memories, I have no regrets. I was honest with him, but respectful. I disagreed with him regularly, but I honored him when I did it. I told him that I loved him often. And when it came to say good-bye, I found that I had said everything I needed, and wanted, to say.
I guess my hope in sharing this with you is that you'll cherish those you love, even when the relationship is hard. We never know what our tomorrows will bring. We don't know the plans God has for us. But we can cherish today, and those that God has placed in our lives.
And do me a favor - will ya? If you still have your dad around...tell him you love him.