Reprise on Father’s Day

When I walk down the store aisles and see the display of Father’s Day cards, I am filled with nostalgia. I knew my Father for 50 years, and then he was gone. As with all fathers, there are strong points and weak points – but I knew my father loved me.

I remember the tears in his eyes when I brought home an ‘F’ on my report card in math one six weeks. I suffered to see how it hurt him. I loved the way he told stories – even mundane, every day stories became incredibly riveting as they involved hand gestures, a drop in his voice that could grow to thunder at times. His eyes were so expressive, and now when I tell a story, and I realize that my eyes are wider than usual, I feel Dad’s presence beside me.

He made me see the anguish of Abraham planning to sacrifice his son, or the industriousness of Noah building the ark through all the derisive remarks of his neighbors and the bravery David displayed when he fought the huge Goliath with the small stones. To me Dad was as brave as David, as sacrificial as Abraham and as patient as Noah.

When he died in 1979, I realized that Dad had given me a gift to surpass any monetary inheritance or gift. He gave me a picture of my Heavenly Father like no other! I more clearly understood God’s unconditional love, I could see that any discipline that comes my way is deserved, and through that discipline I became more and more God’s child. When I step out of my comfort zone and attempt to do something, I trust God to help me, just as my earthly father did. (I can still see my Dad’s arms pumping away as he scurried away to get whatever task came his way to be done!)

When it came time to marry, I gradually learned through our 57 years, that my husband had great father-potential. Not all at once – we did not have books to guide us on how to parent – but we muddled through with the help of God. Now in the later years of our lives, we realize the gift of parent hood. We praise God and thank Him for our four children, each one different, each one gifted, each one unique – and for any mistakes we made – God has covered them over with love.

In 1992, our daughter-in-law (love), Karen, gave us a gift that is still our favorite….and the title of this book is — My Dad is Brilliant by Nick Butterworth. In each of its pages are memories — times that our four remembered about their Dad. I can’t include them all because of space.

He’s as strong as a gorilla:

  • Tim – Wrestling hay bales for Buger (shetland pony), I watched you heave those up high, in awe at your strength
  • Paul – When the house on Market Street in Dodge City blew up and burned (across the street), you called the fire department for help in a calm, assured voice. I was amazed at your strength under fire – you knew what to do and did it in a quick calm way. I was so proud of my Dad.
  • Anna – I remember playing the new whisle out front, and that mean bull dog, at least 10 feet tall came toward me. I was so frightened, I could only blow harder and louder. Just as that huge dog towered over me, my Dad picked me up twice as high and saved me. I felt so safe and secure in my daddy’s arms.

…and he can run like a cheetah….

  • Tim – Somehow I don’t ever remember you running, I remember you always wore boots though.
  • Dan – But with one pant leg in and one pant leg…..
  • Paul – We played soccer behind the house on Market Street. You and Dan and me. I remember the joy of running with my Dad and my brother, playing a game together. I thought to myself then, I’ll do this with my kids, too.

….and he can play any instrument…..

  • Anna – You listened through agonizing hours of my piano playing. You spent hours in your workshop in the basement just below the piano. I noticed when you changed your comments of ‘you are improving’ to “I enjoyed that today”. I miss your listening ear
  • Tim – We were never made fun of and were always encouraged to do music….all four of us. I can barely remember your bass, but I will always remember your applause.
  • Dan – Who bought my first musical instrument without hesitation? And who paid for repairs after it was injured without complaint. All that gave me even more reason to practice, practice, practice, when when I did not want to.
  • Paul – We drove to St. Louis on a Saturday and you bought me a set of drums! I couldn’t wait to play (bang) them and they sat in the corner of the basement. I just knew you played them when no one else was home — how could you not? You did, didn’t you?

….and he is brilliant and making things…..

  • Tim – We had many tree houses, one in front, one in the back, one on the side, where did all that lumber come from?
  • Dan – We had a small tree house built over the relic of a Model T – purposefully left for us to use as a play toy – we had hours of fun in there.
  • Anna – I was quite old and almost married before I realized that not every daddy fixed everything and did stuff around the house. And people thought we were rich because we had a TV in every room.
  • Paul – On Market Street, you were working in the shed and we were playing outside. It was near dusk. You wanted us to hold the spark while you cranked a starter, but you put together a go-cart. At least you said it was. I couldn’t wait to try it out. I think we had to push it around. PS We didn’t trust you when you asked us to hold a wire any more.

…and he tells the funniest jokes in the world….

  • Tim – Jokes were the food of the Combs! I remember the running gags at supper and sometimes I’d leave the table with my stomach muscles hurting. Karen says they weren’t allowed to sing at their supper table. We were so lucky.
  • Paul – I remember the suppers, too — but they weren’t a success unless I could ‘crack’ Dad up. He also used to tell all the jokes about people dying to get into cemetaries (a popular place) and the guy who took smartening pills. (I won’t say who made them)
  • Dan – Another Readers’ Digest joke! Dinnertime was my favorite, we could sit around the table and all have 2 or 3 conversations going at once, loving chaos in a ceaseless din, but no one left the table unhappy (unless it was their turn for dishes).
  • Anna – There were always jokes running around our dinner table. It was between Mom and I who caught on last. I learned that God and Daddy aren’t afraid of laughter one night when we started laughing during the prayer. Tim and I worried what Daddy would do. He rolled up a paper napkin and ‘popped’ me and Tim on the head with it saying “behave!”. We really laughed. (Paper napkins don’t pop, they don’t snap, they are soft like a feather, just like my Dad’s love!)

Psalm 103:13, 17-18
As parents feel for their children, God feels for those who fear him. …..God’s love, though, is ever and always, eternally present to all who fear him, Making everything right for them and their children as they follow his Covenant ways and remember to do whatever he said.