Happy Birthday, Dad!
In between the hours of my father's death and his funeral, I wrote the following poem for him. My father was not a religious man and did not attend a local church. So while my uncle asked his clergyman to preside over the service, I couldn't bear the thought of someone who didn't even know my father deliverying his eulogy. He deserved a heart felt tribute from someone who knew him...someone who loved him.
So on that day many years ago I stood before a standing room only crowd, and shared a story about a man and his daughter. A story many people in the room had never heard.
Holding In My Heart
I'm not sure how to start this out
But I have a story to share and it's all about
A man, who I as a child was denied the right to know
And he carried in his heart for years, a father's love he could not show.
With a child's love I remembered him, that I was holding in my heart
Many hours found me wondering, why must we be apart?
For my mother truly believed that her way was really best
While other children held their daddy's hand, I knew I was different from the rest.
There were so many unanswered questions and unfulfilled needs
For years I wanted to know, and to my mother I would plead
Who is he? What's he like? And do I have his eyes?
But she stood firm, and for whatever reason she believed she had
My Mom would never discuss anything with me about my Dad.
I know how much she loved me, I felt it each time she stroked my face
And for my benefit she soon married and put another man in Daddy's place
But by the time I turned 15 their relationship sadly changed
And once again I found my life would be suddenly rearranged.
Mom became a single parent, but the pressure became too great
When I was 21 she died, and I thought now it is too late
For me to ever know all the secrets I had buried deep with her
Dad, I knew you were out there, somewhere, but what you felt for me, I was never sure.
Then deep within my darkest hour, all alone with a pain I felt I could never bear
When I really, truly needed someone, I looked up and you were there
We talked and we laughed; soon it no longer mattered what had ever been
With that little girl's eyes I looked at you and I smiled when you said,
"Honey, I've fallen in love with you all over again."
From that day on you filled my life with the special things we shared
I'll remember fondly forever, Dad, the way you told me you had always cared
A little girl's broken heart you healed that day and I knew that it was true
Because there wasn't a single day that passed when I wasn't thinking of you, too.
The years rolled on, the days passed by as our lives became a connected motion
While I learned from you what a Daddy is, I was touched by your endless devotion
I may have lost my mother, but you gave me another family
Who welcomed me with open arms and loved me, oh, so very tenderly.
Somehow you always knew just how to make my blue eyes shine
During all the years that followed, Dad, I never dreamed there would come the time
When you would bring to me the news that I could not bear to hear
The day you told me there was a chance you may not always be here.
You fought that battle, so brave and strong, you had so much to give
You kept all of us going with your remarkable will to live
You touched so many people with your easy going way
You even amazed your doctor with how you kept that cancer at bay.
Each day became moreprecious, each moment brought something new
Little things that I somehow missed before, I suddenly saw in you
And as I grew to know and love the man who forever changed my life
I also found my mother in the woman he chose to be his loving wife.
Of all the things that I could do to show for you I care
It was in your final hours that I knew I must be there
And though it was the hardest thing that I could ever face
I know deep in my heart thatnow, no one will ever take your place.
And now I stand here to face this day, but alone I will never be
For I will always walk faithfully with the love you gave to me
With each new day, you are by my side, we will never be apart
You will always be the part of me, I am holding in my heart.
Thank you God for choosing this beautiful man to always be my Daddy.
Somehow, I made it through the entire poem without breaking down, but there were a couple of moments where I came close. During those times, I paused, took a deep breath and cast my eyes upward, drawing strength from above. But as I walked away to rejoin my family, the tears finally came as the opening chords of "The Dance" by Garth Brooks began to play.
Later, at the fellowship dinner, my former boss told me she saw two angels standing by my side while I spoke. My cousin said he couldn't believe how long the poem was, and that I kept going and going. My uncle asked me if I would write and deliver his eulogy. And a friend said I made her husband cry...in their 40+ years of marriage, she had never seen him cry.
Even after he was gone, Dad continued to touch people. Or maybe he just passed that ability on to me.