And when does the pain of caring go away?
I was afraid to hold you at first, you’re seemed so small,
not at all like your sister, so quiet, reserved, and still.
It’s not that she was in better or you will be worse,
the two of you would just very, very different.
It’s even a little awkward to say that you were small,
when I look back after all these years,
especially compared to all those other new babies
who weighed six or seven pounds when they were born,
and here your sister and you checked in at 8.10 and 9.4, respectively.
But to me you seemed tiny; fragile, and I thought, somehow, I’d break you,
both of you. As silly as that sounds, that’s how I felt.
Even after a year’s worth of practice holding your sister
I still felt that way the first time I held you;
That against all odds I would still do the impossible
and be the father who broke his newborn the first time he held her,
And in the most horrendous kind of way imaginable,
nearly forty years later, I’m still petrified by that fear.
For 18 years I did my best to show you how the do your best
I tried to be there when I could, be all the things a father should.
I went to plays, games, concerts, gymnastics meets, and trips,
helped the coaches, teachers, volunteers and pretty much anyone
who put out the call, needed a helping hand, or volunteer.
I tried to teach you about Jesus, and the difference knowing Him would make in your life
when you committed to him and trusted your eternal future to His loving care.
And I tried to be a good responsible example at home what a husband and father should be,
although I guess that was probably my biggest failure.
I taught you to be strong. I taught you to stand up for yourself.
I taught you to never be afraid to speak your mind when you believe strongly in
something or someone, because you might be the only one
who takes up that person’s banner; who shows them someone cares.
Yes, I know I make my mistakes. Some of them repeatedly. Some of them huge.
But I tried to separate those things from you. You were never the source of the problems.
If anything, you were my anchor. You were what kept me going.
You are why I kept trying.
More than anything else, you are why I’m writing this. I can’t undo the past
or the mistakes that I made. I can’t change your perceptions of confused memories,
or memories of events that happen before you were born.
I can’t defend the versions of incidents that took place that I wasn’t there
to defend when you heard the version that you heard.
And I can’t make up for past mistakes I’ve apologized for
more times than I can remember because sometimes forgiveness
is accompanied by a “right to throw it up in your face again” clause.
I wasn’t a perfect Christian or a perfect Father, but I did try to raise you to not be disrespectful,
or to challenge your Elders about things you really weren’t there to know about,
much less contrast your ‘facts’ and the memories of we who actually lived the ‘facts”.
I can tell you how deeply it hurts when you call me a liar,
or challenge me or disrespect me in an open forum like Facebook
because your feelings don’t really matter when you’re calling me a liar
in front of people of examine my integrity when I’m Answering their questions
or offering an explanation about what the Bible means
when someone like Paul says “don’t be conformed to the world,
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”,
or something as simple as when I say “I’ll pray for you”.
YOU aren’t the one who‘s being called to the carpet.
I’m 62 years old now. 15 days from being 62 ½. I’ve been with me
for every one of those 62 ½ years. You, on the other hand,
depending on which of you are reading this, are either 35 or 36.
I have mostly known you for all of those years. But I was 25 years old
when the first one of you was born. Theoretically at least,
that’s 25 years of my life about which you know nothing.
There are an additional 25 years that have passed since your mother
made the decision that she did preferred the preference of another man.
And so realistically of those 62 ½ years, 50 of them
are unaccounted for in your knowledge base of my life. Therefore,
when I tell you what I’ve done with my life, you only really have about a dozen years
with which to accurately challenge my conclusions.
And even then, new and it only really be guessing.
Now you can ridicule me, challenge me, call me a liar,
call me ignorant, fight with me in an open forum,
disrespect me in an open forum, call me judgmental,
call me a hypocrite new and openly criticize me,
anything you want. But bear in mind
that your children see you treating your grandfather like this,
and if they see mom do it, they’ll decide it’s okay for them to do it,
and if it’s okay to do it to grandpa,
it’s okay with mom and dad,
and Sunday school teachers,
and any other adult. Because that’s what mommy does,
and that makes it okay. And that’s why I delete those disrespectful
crude, obnoxious posts, because strangely, I feel the need to protect my child
from wagging tongues that would see her saying such hurtful things
because she forgot “Honor your father and your mother,
so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you."Exodus 20:12,
while she was busy accusing him of Matthew 7:1-6.
Because no matter how badly I screwed up in the past,
no matter how many mistakes I made raising you.You will always be my children, and I’ll always love you.
By David Roth
©17 May, 2015