A couple of months ago, this guy was in the hospital. It sure was good to be able to celebrate his 81st birthday with him back home yesterday!
As we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him, I could see him looking around at his wife, children and grandchildren. I could see the gratitude in his eyes, the love and pride in his heart. Even though birthdays are a day to celebrate the present and future, they are also a time to look back and reflect.
When my dad looks back, does he remember laughing so hard he just shook when this son did one of his impersonations?
Does he look at his grandbabies and remember bouncing his own kids on his lap? Giving Mom a breather from almost 3 decades of diapers?
Does he look at the youngest grandchildren and think back to his first years as a new grandpa? The wooden toys and cradles he made so lovingly in his shop? The family resemblance on the inside and out?
When he hears the children's laughter, does he look back to his first years as a new husband and father? Does he remember the loud household, all of the leaves in the dinner table, the chairs full of family?
When he watches these kids play ball, does he look back at his own youth and remember the thrill of the game, the feel of the glove, the throw from short to first? Does he remember taking time out after a long day of field work and chores to throw a few pitches to his kids? Does he fill up with pride and joy at the memories of old and the new ones being made?
The last few times I've talked with Dad, I've had a chance to listen to his memories. I've seen him look at Mom with a precious look that brings tears to my eyes. He is so grateful for everything, and yet he does not always verbalize it. I've told him how important it is--especially for us females--to hear it once in a while. He understands, and yet he forgets sometimes. Don't we all?
I can see it in his eyes. Looking back. Looking ahead. Gratitude.
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe."--Hebrews 12:28