Father's Day or Thanksgiving? – Crosswalk of prayer
Father's Day or Thanksgiving? A retrospective
by Shawn McEvoy
I will enter his gates with thanksgiving in my heart
I will praise his dishes
I will say "This is the day the Lord made"
I will be happy because he made me happy
~ "He made me happy"
Make no mistake – I will never be "happy" that my father died at the age of 57. I am not exuberant that he did not meet his incredible grandchildren or gave his daughter away on their wedding day. I longed for his father, who had already lost a young woman to cancer and his eldest son to a car accident in his prime. I still haven't grasped the emptiness he left in the life of his fishing friends or his work group. I never wished that my mother would enter her golden years next to her without the love of her life. And yet …
I was happy that day when I gave my father's eulogy, and now I have joy.
God rejoices in the return of his saints, even if those who knew my father understand that, according to some definitions, he was not a saint. But this was a man – my best man – who learned the truth of grace, who was not afraid or in pain when faced with death, and whose last days were soothed by knowing that he did not even enter the heart of is man what God has in store for those who love him (1 Cor 2: 9).
I came to see that Dan McEvoy was a lot for many people who still feel the void he left behind. This story allowed me to see many spouts, the largest of which was the call we received from an old friend in the hospital. My father's liver had been conquered by a melanoma that had metastasized there. When Mrs. Miller – a woman from my grandmother's generation – called to say goodbye, she tearfully asked if Dan could live in any way if she donated her own liver. I'm not even sure of the ethics there and we weren't able to do a transplant, but all I could focus on was: Greater love has no one but this to lay down his life for his friends.
And so I'm grateful. And when I tell you why, I hope that you not only follow Paul's example to "rejoice in those who rejoice", but that no matter how good, lazy or unfair you are with your own situation with yours own father was find a little reason for gratitude.
In 1997 my father finally decided that he needed a Lord and Savior. This was the only prayer I ever really asked God to answer for me, and he got through, not in my time but in his time. After he made that decision, I knew that my belief would be that I would be fine, whatever happened, whenever it happened, the rest of my life.
With the first point of Thanksgiving, I can say that I am also overcrowded with thanks for these things:
I am grateful that Dad was the best man at my wedding and put his hand on my shoulder during the ceremony.
I am grateful that my parents stayed together, especially considering that Christianity almost dissolved them in the early 1980s. Not only did they endure this difficult situation in their marriage, they also did it better and loved each other "more than yesterday and less than tomorrow" to the end.
I am grateful that my friends Jay and Bill saw "The Danner" as their second father.
I am grateful for Christmas 2000 when our family rented a mountain cabin and had our best Christmas ever – without knowing that it would be our last with the guy who glued all our crazy people together.
I am grateful that we cheered on my sister when she went over the stage to complete her studies and that Dad was allowed to read the essay I wrote about his life and relationship for one of my final courses.
I am grateful for the way my mother's mother and sisters worshiped my father and was never shy to tell me about it.
I am grateful that my father gave me everything I needed to grow up and everything I needed to keep going. As I said in the inscription to a book I gave him: "You showed me how to be strong, now you can maybe show me the strength to be weak." He has.
I'm also grateful for the little things: after Thanksgiving "turkey sings" … playing catch at the pool … the "let's do" support when I announced that I was going to a small school a year before doesn't want to go to school Baptist College in Oklahoma (although it wasn't hard to hear the words "tutoring") … the gloomy day we spent in Dallas visiting the JFK assassination site .. every fishing trip we have undertaken. I'm even glad I never hit him when I was playing tennis.
I am very grateful for the eight full days we have spent laughing, crying, thinking, praying and just being quiet before he died. We agreed that, of course, regardless of when one of us should leave Earth, there was of course a limited amount of time that we could possibly spend together, so sometimes we just sat there and loved it. He asked me how I could bear to wipe his face further or to help him move around in bed. I had to tell him that in a year I was sure that I would give my all to wring out his washcloths.
Above all, I am grateful for the stories and memories that we have and that we have shared with one another in the past few days. I want to tell you two of them.
One day when I was very young, my father and aunt tanned next to our pool. I had played on the steps. My aunt suddenly noticed that the ripple she heard was not a good sign. They noticed that I was floating face down in the water. Dad jumped in and jerked me up just to see me spit water and said, "It was fun; let's do it again!" I'm not sure why this story was so special for Dad (after all, he got into trouble), but he often told it. Maybe it was his memory of fragility, love and responsibility.
In any case, it was my turn 13 years later to get him out of the water. We had brought a friend's pop-up trailer to Roosevelt Lake, Arizona. We had just set up camp and rented our miserable little aluminum boat with the outboard motor. We were preparing for "evening food" when I saw a light bulb go out over my father's head.
I could tell that his back wasn't until an evening when he was sitting on the hard metal benches that serve as seats. He ran to the campsite and returned with a folding chair, which he smugly placed over the middle bench. He sat down at the rear of the vehicle and said, "You have to drive, Shawn-o, heh heh." He had his fishing rod in one hand, a silver ball in the other, a big grin on his face and a cheap ball cap on his head that he had bought in a supermarket that morning and simply said, "Captain." Like speaking of.
As we walked out of our bay and past the no-wake buoys, the wind started whipping some white caps on the water. As soon as we passed the buoys, I turned the engine and accidentally turned the rudder to starboard when a wave hit the port side of the boat. Wham! We went perpendicular to the water before the boat hit the surface again. I looked up in relief until I noticed that the captain was no longer in the boat!
His fishing tackle was still there, his drink was intact, and his ridiculous throne was still upright, but he had left the ship and was now hovering somewhere behind me as the boat shot forward. Now I've done something very strange. Instead of just circling back to get it, I panicked and hit the kill switch on the engine. Now I stopped and heard a weak voice screaming over the waves: "Shawn-o, come baaaaccck!"
"I'm trying – I can't restart the engine!"
(Long pause) … "Row!"
So I tried to row, but the waves were pretty strong and the oars didn't fit the oarlocks properly. Papa lost his shoes, glasses, and old-lady-style sunglasses he wore over his glasses and swam to a buoy. Finally I had the engine restarted and picked it up. He got into the boat and was still wearing the captain's hat. We went to a bay to start fishing. Nobody said anything.
After an hour of no conversation and no bites, I tried to apologize, but he wouldn't have any part of it. "That's what I get when I look like Captain Jackass," he said.
Although it was our turn to lift the other out of the water, I don't think every case qualifies as an official form of baptism. But I think the moral is – you don't ask a drowning person if he wants to be saved.
Too many of us are cruising on rickety thrones in troubled waters like our own Captain Jackass. At some point we will end up in the drink. Hopefully we have the wisdom to understand what is happening: peace, be quiet. Trust in the arms that will raise you up again. His grace is enough for me, Dan McEvoy and you.
One last "water" story – I always raised my father about which of Tucson's many rest homes to take me to as he gets older. The enthusiastic fly fisherman's answer was always the same: "Shawn-o, you will find me covered in a trout stream long before I am ever ready for a home." We always had a good laugh about it.
It turned out that he was right. No, he'll never have to endure if I bring him into a house, and although I think he enjoys some nice trout streams, I don't see him undercover in one. Instead, I see him face down in front of the throne of grace, with answered questions, rewarded faith, and happy spirit. On this father's day and every day I am happy with him. How could I do less?
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