Going back to the past can be a tricky thing. Sometimes, the things you revisit affect you in a way you least expect. I learned this recently when I returned to my dad's one and only pastorate in Lindsay, Oklahoma.
Chris and I took a nice quiet weekend away, just the two of us to San Antonio, TX. While it was nice to get away it was also equally nice to return home. But the trip isn't the point of this blog.
On our way home we decided to stop in Lindsay.
My parents moved to Lindsay in January 1977, shortly before my third birthday and we lived there until November of 1979 when we moved to Yukon after Daddy died. It's amazing how the memory plays tricks on you. The tree that seemed so huge to me as a small girl no longer seemed so towering as a grown woman. The front porch was different due to renovations and structural changes to the house. The small church that once boasted the name, Lindsay Church of the Nazarene is no longer of the same denomination. It was interesting how seeing the house, a few things fell into place for me. The slant of the driveway explained why it was so easy for the jack to slip from beneath the car, falling on my dad and ending our meager, but happy existence as a family.
Walking towards the church though and seeing the yard, for a split second I could see a group of children playing games with my dad as the leader. I could see Dell and his motorcycle and the rails that served as a parking area was all still there and also the basketball net my dad put up for the youth in town to use. But walking toward the doors of the church I found myself weeping.
Here was the place where I was happy as my Daddy's buddy. His little girl, who he loved and snuggled, but also disciplined with a firm but loving hand. Here we spent several Christmases and welcomed Matthew home after a difficult pregnancy. For one moment I could see Tolly's dad Mr. Stroud giving my mom Dad's glasses and she and Elmira sat on the couch weeping because he would no longer come into the house. No longer would we hear his laugh or hear his goofy jokes or enjoy his entertaining us with acting like a ham. No more playing on the "map" as I used to call it where Dad did tricks and played with me. Or sitting and having "motions". I lost a sense of security, Matt & Meg didn't get to know him. Never would they know what a sweet man he was or how much he truly loved God. And even though for a while my mom used to wonder if it was worse for me because I had memories of my dad; I think Matt and Meg are worse for not having known him. My memories of him colored how I measured young men in high school. I knew I wanted a man who would love God and let Him work in his life. I knew I would want a man who would temper discipline with love. My sister did not have these gifts, the gift of knowing what a good man and a good husband are and they have colored her choices in men.
Matthew grew up the only boy in a house of women, there was no dad to teach him the things that men teach their sons. How to treat women. Even now after 31 yrs of him being gone I miss him. Although what was once a deep anguish is now a longing. A yearning for the things that might have been for Matt & Meg. A curiosity of how all of our lives would have differed had Daddy been with us into adulthood. What type of marriages would we have? I have a good marriage, but I don't know that I can say that for my sister, for only she knows what truly happens in her home. Matthew cannot keep a girlfriend, he is selfish and a jerk. I love him as my brother, but liking him is often a different matter entirely. What type of man would he have grown up to be. How would that one moment have changed everything for my family if only Daddy had done one simple thing - placed blocks under the car.
We have a generation of young people who want what they want no matter what the consequences. A generation that has yet to realize how one person's choice impacts so many others. A generation that seems even more so to feel it is invincible and as they learn this is not true, it shakes them to the core. So while walking down memory lane is not always easy, it can be said that it does give one a chance to reflect on choices. How do your choices affect those around you? Do you even realize that they affect people? Whether it be something small as speaking in a rude and disrespectful tone to your parents in front of your siblings, or choosing to act out by vandalizing another persons property. These choices impact people. Because when we model behavior or choices for others they see it and it colors the choices they make.
While there is a part of me that would give anything to see my Dad and hear his voice again, I know that the life I have now is the life I am meant to lead and I am the better for it.