One summer in college my dad hired me to work for him. He’s a building contractor, and, as he often does, he had way too much faith in my abilities. He had me keeping the books. Math and me, we’re not such good buddies. But, my dad was just completely confident that I would be able to handle things. Our professional relationship ended shortly after I sent out an entire month’s worth of bills that were paid with unsigned checks. Oops! was my response. And then I skipped on my merry way while he made four million phone calls to try and straighten out the gigantic mess. And before I knew it, he decided to “go in a different direction” with the bookkeeping. Strange.
My dad has always been the most patient man in the world. When I was a kid, he was much quicker to wink and smile than to scold. You know how people say you’ll look back on this and laugh? Well, my dad didn’t have to look back on it. He laughed his way through things. At least, that’s what it felt like.
When I was about to start the seventh grade, he was badly burned and spent three weeks in the burn unit, followed by many surgeries and other complications. He has buried both parents and his brother who was his best friend. He’s faced all kinds of heartaches as all people do, but each and every time he faces another, he shows me what grace looks like. What resting in Christ looks like. What faith can do to a broken heart. And he smiles. He has never lost his love for laughing.
And, as for me, he has never let it show if he was disappointed.
He is a brilliant musician and songwriter. My childhood was filled with music, and every night it seemed like it was either the piano or the sounds of the Texas Rangers game that lulled me to sleep. Now when I see him sit at the piano, it is for me the most natural place for him to be, and I remember him playing through the pain after he was burned, stretching blistered and bandaged hands across the keys, reminding his fingers that they could still play. When everything else in his life had been suddenly turned upside down, he had God, he had his family, and he had his piano.
I could write a book about the ways he’s inspired me and the many ways that I love my dad. But, for now I’ll close by saying that of all the memories swirling around in my heart, there is one that comes to my mind most often. And, it pretty much sums up who my dad has always been in my life. When I was a kid, if things were scary or sad or upsetting somehow my dad would always catch my eye, give me a little smile, and wink. I’ve seen him wink with tears streaming down his face at funerals. I’ve seen wink while crouched in the cellar while storms raged overhead. I’ve seen him wink while blood stained after a car accident.
Somehow that little wink was like a reminder straight from God. All is well. I am in control. Fear not.
I’m so thankful for a dad who filled my life with laughter and reassuring winks. He is my hero in so many ways, but most of all because his love for me taught me so much about God’s love for me.
Happy Father’s Day to Tommy Clark. Here’s my feeble gift. Oh, this and my undying love for you, my daddy forever.