“The best thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother.”
While this quote by John Wooden may not apply to many family situations nowadays, it did apply to my own family. To love unconditionally with your whole soul sets a wonderful example to children. For Father’s Day, let me share another tale about my Dad. Warning: tear jerker.
Mom was 88 years old when a decision was made for her to undergo heart valve replacement surgery. Mom never wanted to leave Dad’s side as he was four years older and not the best cook. Sure, he could cook a grilled cheese—seven minutes per side!—and scramble eggs with no issue but Mom knew he relied on her a great deal.
The medical procedure took place two hours away in London. Mom would be gone for close to five days.
A couple of us children stopped by to ensure Dad was doing well. Cooking is not my forte by any means so other sisters stepped up to the plate in that respect. I did what I always did best. I took Dad to his appointments, helped out with the gardening and kept him company.
On the way home from an appointment with Dad’s own cardiologist—the doctor that Dad called a “clown”— I was asked if we could make another stop. This was unusual as Dad tired easily and one errand or appointment at a time was plenty.
Dad asked if we could pop by a Christian gift shop. He wanted to purchase a gift for Mom. A get-well, recuperation, a woo-hoo-you-survived-heart-surgery type of gift. He had something precisely in mind. A Willow Tree angel figurine.
The store clerk, a frail-looking young woman with a soft voice, was very patient with Dad.
“Would your wife like this one? How about this one?”
When Dad set his sights on the angel with the outstretched arms, he knew it was the correct choice. It was called “Blessings”. How appropriate!
“I think she’ll like this one the best.”
It was carefully wrapped in a gift bag fluffed up with tissue paper.
Later while I watched a British murder mystery on TV with Dad, Mom phoned. After talking a bit, she said to him, “I love you a bushel and a peck.”
Dad sang the rest of the song from the 1950’s back to her.
“A bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck.
A hug around the neck and a barrel and a heap.
A barrel and a heap and I’m talking in my sleep,
About you, about you,
‘Cause I love you a bushel and a peck.
You bet your purdy neck I do.
A doodle oodle oh,
A doodle oodle oodle oh doo!”
I didn’t realize at the time the song was a ritual between the two of them.
True love: A 92-year-old serenading his wife who is in a hospital bed two hours from home.
Yes, our family was blessed to have been demonstrated examples of long-lasting, unconditional love between our parents.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad up in Heaven. We miss you dearly. Trust that your love and compassion lives on in our relationships with our own families. You taught us well.