Sunday, June 16, 2013

Dad

Well, it's another Father's Day and I find myself missing my dad more than ever.  So in honor of my dad, Bill Kampe, I'm re-posting this blog (as I seem to do every year), that I wrote a few years ago. Happy Father's Day, Dad.  I can't wait to see you again someday. I'll bet the fishing is great! You'll have to show me all the good spots when I get there!

For me, one of the most comforting aspects of the Christian faith is that God is our “Father”. (Psalms 68:5) My dad died a little over seven years ago. That’s something that I never thought I would have to say, let alone write in a blog. “My dad died.” You always look at your parents as being somewhat immortal, especially dads. But they die, and I guess a little part of us was created to expect it. It's natural to lose your parents one day, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Each time I talk about my dad, and get to the point of talking about this death, I feel my eyes watering up and my voice crack a little; even today. It’s funny, but I miss him more and more as the years go by. Something will pop into my head, some thought that I want to share with him, or something will happen where I could really use his advice. It’s funny, but sometimes I have to remind myself that he’s not there.

A few years ago, my 10 year old son was experimenting with his electronic set and asking questions that were a little out of my field of knowledge. My dad was an electrical engineer and I began to tell him about how this is the kind of stuff Paw Paw did for a living. He would have loved teaching him how it all worked and the fact that his grandson was showing some aptitude in this area would have given him such a thrill.

It’s funny, but I can still hear my Dad’s voice, as if I had just talked with him a few days ago. When I’m away from my wife and boys, I sometimes forget their voices, but I remember my dad’s voice. I remember the deep tone it had and the calm and methodical way he spoke. When he was excited or passionate about something, he would get more animated and stutter a little. That’s how you could tell that he was really interested in the conversation.

I remember my dad coming home from work late in the day. He would open the door quickly and come through with a big stride. He always had the paper in his hand and would lightly hit me with it. “Hey, guy!”, he would say with a big smile, and would go in the kitchen to say hi to Mom. That “dad smell” would waft passed me as he went by, and I felt comfortable. I felt safe. Dad was home.

I’ve learned that being a dad is a lot harder than being a son. My dad told me one time that I would never feel the same security that I did when I was a boy living at home, once I had my own family. And he was right, to an extent. I’m the one that carries the burdens and fights the monsters under the bed. I’m the one that is responsible for creating the safe structure of home and peace that my boys rest in.

But like I said, my dad was only right to an extent. I believe that even though I have the enormous responsibility of being a father, the burden is not 100% on my shoulders. We are stewards of these amazing gifts that God has given us. God still calls the plays; we just carry the ball. And I do feel some shades of the security that I once felt as a child from time to time. When I feel close to God and His presence is evident, flowing around me, I feel safe. When I come to Him as a little child, and rest in His arms, I feel peace. And as I comfort my boys and do my best to create the peaceful structure that they deserve, I feel God doing the same for me. He’s my Father. He’s Dad. (John 20:17)

My dad believed in God, but I don’t know if He felt the same security on which I’ve learned to depend. I think that he carried a lot of burdens that he didn’t realize were not his to carry. See, my grandfather died when my Dad was only 9 years old, so he had to learn how to be a dad with only a small point of reference. He had to learn to depend on himself for much of his life and that made him a little harder. He grew up without a father and I wonder how much different his life would have been had his dad lived a longer life. And for that matter, what would my life be like today?

Either way, dad did his very best at raising two boys, and he did a damn good job. I told him that a few years before he died, and he said that that was one of those things you wait your entire parenting life to hear. I hope to hear it someday, and I hope that my boys will grow up feeling just a little more security than I did. Not security from me, but from their heavenly Father who wants them to have a peace that transcends all of their understanding. (Philippians 4:7) I want them to feel that security of knowing that everything is OK. It’s taken care of. Dad’s home.