Every first is difficult. There will be Birthdays, Father’s Days and Anniversaries that will be celebrated without your earthly presence. We will celebrate them from here, while you celebrate new life there. Traditions that we make help us to remember how much you meant to us. We will each find our own way to preserve our memories of you.
I was only your daughter-in-law, but my memory of you began as a little girl. You were the owner of Macs City Parking Lot in town. We always parked there. Always. If the sign said it was full? Momma always said, “It’s okay- he always finds a place for us. I can’t remember meeting you back then, I was more interested in the shopping trip. I do know that you did always find a parking space for us, and I can’t remember having to walk very far because of it. I laugh now, because Derek probably parked our car long before we met in 1986. What a small world.
It took awhile for me to get to know you, but years later I come to respect the person you were, and what you stood for. I would later learn just how much of a prankster you were and how much you liked to joke. Stories upon stories you told us about growing up and working at the parking lot and the people who you met along the way. The thing I remember most…were your testimonies of how God had spared your life in more than one accident or circumstance. How you trusted Him, regardless of any situation.
I will say that I know you were not perfect. I say this, because I know you hated flattery. I remember how you would recite scripture that “our righteousness is as filthy rags” and we are just passing through this life, trying to be a light to those that need Jesus. I can only imagine how many lives you touched through that part of your time here. I know mine was one of them.
On a day that I was struggling with not having any living parents and feeling like an orphan, you called..out of the blue. Your words were short, but said that you had me on your mind and you just wanted me to know you were praying for me. I said okay, and pretended that everything was fine. I hung up the phone and the tears flowed. I was not okay. I was grieving and heartbroken. I learned then, that you were obedient when you felt the unction to pray for someone you acted upon it. It was a gift to me that day, and I would later call you and tell you that you how much I had needed that call.
I can still hear you say “Hey Dee” on the phone, and it makes me smile. You were always kind to me. Honest, yet truthful in your words. I have always been thankful for that. Plus, we made a good team working on projects together. (Hey? I learned to hang vinyl siding didn’t I?) You were a good foreman!
I would also learn how important you would become to my daughter. So many things you shared with her that will never be forgotten. There is not enough word space to write all of those things. She adored you. She still says that you were her best friend and dreams of riding one of those white horses with you in Heaven. I know it will be a celebration like no other.
So, today, we will make a new tradition in our household in honor of your Birthday… a trip to McDonald’s to have your favorite, a strawberry milkshake. It will be our way of celebrating your new life, while remembering the old.
Our joy will one day outweigh the sadness we feel. Besides, you asked her not to be sad, so we will try to have more smiles and stories in our tradition. We will celebrate “Pa” and keep pressing on towards our reunion. Until then,
Happy Birthday in Heaven, Celebrating New Life.. as it should be.