He stood outside the door in the middle of a hot, summer day in the foothills of southern Appalachia, where the hills rolled in endless waves and the trees grew green, tall and proud. Stretching their limbs to the sky that casted blue, there was a smell, a scent in the air that made you want to always stay and never leave.
You could hear the sound of bleating sheep and barking dogs as he stood with his hands shoved in his holed pants with a tattered baseball cap on the top of his head. His eyes still held that blue from way back when, but now his face holds subtle lines, wrinkled brows, and a back that sometimes stiffened his walk, especially when the cold, harsh winter months came. But he smiled and his eyes had that glow as he spoke, “ Yep, from far back as I can remember I've always wanted to make something grow. I was always in that dirt.”
And I guess he somewhat was.
When he was a young, sixteen year old boy he worked on a farm in southern Alabama picking watermelons for a dollar an hour. He worked with the sun beating down on his back, his knees bent to the good, brown earth for an amount that none today would ever lift a leg or finger for. That kind of work for that price isn't worth the sweat and achy back and cramped knees. He said a job was a job and it was something and he was grateful just to have it.
For less than a dollar, for 50 cents an hour, he plucked weeds with his bare hands from a peanut field, because back then it was mostly hands and less machines that made those crops grow. It was all will power and nothing grew unless you tended it and he did.
From peanut fields to soda fountains, he worked at a drugstore, serving milk shakes and ice cream where the atmosphere rang a good, old fashioned laughter and there's something to be missed by all from those days of long ago.
Shortly after that it was marriage and my sister and me and yes, he was young and it's hard being a father maybe more harder than being a mother, because father's don't come with that nurturer hand. To provide is to work the hands and mind, raw and hard. It all has to be learned and when your real mom ups and leaves when your little, because she knows and she just has to, that memory just sits there and makes you wonder.
After that it was all military and service and packed bags and u-haul trucks every three years, but somewhere in the back of his mind he held onto making that green earth grow. Back then he pushed it away to make a family grow and he did and we all grew up and older.
There was many a slam door and raised tones and the mind can hold onto all those thoughts, but to really live, to really be free, is just to let it go. He spoke from the good book, for eighteen years and maybe not everything around was always good and maybe a time or two I rolled my eyes, but those times I remember him the most, because they were eternal words spoken.
Father's do wrong and Father's do good and so do daughters and to hold onto the wrong only brings us down to the dark, where we can't see the light of the good. It only festers in our soul with the misery of what could have been or what should have been, instead of that we made it through.
It's hard for a daughter to grow, but even harder for a father years later to still carry a burden of what if's and past mistakes. There are moments held by all of when they wished they had tried or acted differently, but they can't change it now and if you were to ask a father what he knows now he would speak you those words of wisdom to save you tears of your own.
It wasn't all walks in the park and sunny days for nothing ever is, yet I tried and remembered the good. I still took that deep breath when I was a young girl and inhaled and blew out those candles on my birthday cake and I wished and prayed that he would one day have that green earth he longed for and he did.
Forgive father's as our heavenly father has forgiven us and as father's forgive their children. Forgiveness is not just a word it's an attitude, it's a lifestyle, it's felt way down deep in the bones and it can't help but radiate outward from within. Life is too short, too precious, to waste on living forgiveness as a one time spoken word and not as a visible act. We believe and expect God to forgive us of our sins, but we may find it hard to forgive our neighbors and to live fully forgiven and to act as if we've forgotten and forgiven. Where true forgiveness rests there is joy and there we will find Him.
Our Heavenly Father forgives us over and over again.
He loves us over and over again.
He tends us over and over again.
He waits for us over and over again.
Our Father does not leave us even when our hearts become dry and cracked and cold and when it seems as if nothing good will ever spring from within us. He tends our souls until we soar.
And we father within us His words and we tend.