Happy Birthday Daddy!
My Dad turned 87 today. In typical Wallace Family style, we gathered about 35 family members together and gave him gifts and angel food cake with strawberries and cream. There was lots of talking, laughter, reminiscing, story-telling, children running and playing, looking at old photos, and cheers for the latest triumph of one or another. All because of one man, and the love he gave to his extended family, his beloved wife, children, and grandchildren over so many, many years.
Recently I've been sorting through mountains of their old photos. I was struck by how amazingly handsome a man he was, and still is in so many ways. My brother Bob and I were looking a batch of old tree job pictures--not only was he handsome, he was strong. There are photos of him 60, 80, 120 feet in the air suspended by ropes, spurs and massive chain saws swinging behind him. Amazing to see him braced in an enormous eucalyptus tree sawing through branches five times his girth, at just the right angle, tying ropes to the log so it could be brought down without taking him with it or injuring anyone on the ground. The City of Los Angeles called him a "tree surgeon"... and it is obvious when looking at the photos what kind of skill, as well as bravery, it took.
That was my dad. Skilled and brave.
I recently read through a journal I wrote years ago about my own life, a history of events and thoughts, beliefs, and values. Woven throughout are things I've learned from my dad and my feelings about him. He gave me so much...what I think about and do today originated with him. The greatest gift he gave to me was his unconditional and sacrificial love for me. He truly was, and is, the "Jesus with skin on" that I needed as a child. He opened the door for my own beliefs and a knowledge that God as my Father in Heaven loves me, no matter how far I may stray from Him. Like my earthly daddy, His door is always open to welcome me home. He didn't have to tell me, he demonstrated it. And I knew it.
Today my dad isn't so strong anymore and he's not remembering everything. Now I open his door with a key. But when I unlock the door of my childhood home and come in, I hear those sweet words that will forever ring in my ears, "Well hello Sweetheart! How's my little dolly today? Doesn't she look like a million bucks Mama?"