Christian Living

Spiritual Life

When Father Fell off the Pedestal

"The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him." Daniel 9:9 (NIV)

I grew up thinking my father was the coolest guy around. Being in the insurance business, he never met a stranger. At six feet four inches, everyone remembered him. He had a repertoire of corny jokes and loved to play pranks on the family. His favorite one was yelling for us four kids to "Hurry and get out of bed, because I just saw an escaped elephant in our backyard." As we got older his announcement was, "Oh look it snowed." Snow was almost non-existent in Northern California, but he knew it was the best way to get us out of bed in the winter. When we did have snow, he was outside in his Bermuda shorts, messing around with snowballs that he aimed at the first person out of the front door. He never quite grew into his grown-up shoes.

He could cook and whipped up gourmet meals before it was chic for men to show up in the kitchen. He had majored in hotel administration in college and because of his major, he had to learn to cook. It opened the kitchen to my father's creativity. We were so proud when he was featured "Cook of the Week" in our local Palo Alto Times and had an entire page with all his exotic recipes such as Swedish Meatballs and Chicken Curry. (Remember this was the '50s and '60s.) I have early morning memories of him getting up before anyone else, putting on coffee and reading the paper. I'm sure he cherished a few minutes of quiet in our cramped little house. By the time we kids were up, he had chocolate chip pancakes or eggs and bacon frying on the electric grill. I know my father invented chocolate chip pancakes because it was years before I saw them listed on a restaurant menu.

Even with his gourmet bent, my father would eat anything. Many a night I remember him snacking on a Velveeta cheese, mayo, and peanut butter sandwich. I shudder to think how that might have contributed to his premature death of heart failure. And I gag, thinking what a horrible combo of foods to stick between two slices of white bread.

As lighthearted as he was, he had strong feelings about politics. The one big talk I remember him sitting us down for was to explain the horrors of communism. We knew it was a serious subject as he called us all into the living room for counsel. Dad was rarely serious.

One day, the pedestal cracked and my father tumbled down. I saw my father as a mere human. Somehow he had hidden the unhappy in his marriage to my mother and decided to divorce her and marry another woman. Heartache followed all of us as we knew our family would never be the same. It took many years for our mom to move forward.

But, as I think of this verse in the book of Daniel, my memory of my father is warm. He was a flawed human and did damage to our family, but right before he died he told me he had made peace with the Lord. God is merciful and forgiving. I know I will meet Dad in heaven. I'll find him playing practical jokes on St. Peter and inventing unusual sandwiches.

Copyright © 2013 Carol G. Stratton, used by permission.

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