Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ode to My Daddy

Saturday is Albie's birthday and since I'm not a big weekend blogger, I thought I'd take some time to pay a little homage to the best Dad in the whole world.

Before I was born, my dad was pretty certain he was going to have a boy. Poor kid, he grew up with 3 sisters and as the only boy, I think he just wanted a little break from the estrogen he'd been around all his life. But he did a pretty good turn around with me, letting me be a daddy's girl while still teaching me how to throw a baseball like a boy (it involved a bloody lip on my part), how to play basketball, and taking me on motorcycle rides (at 4 years old).
My dad was always up for playing games. He was FUN. He made up nicknames for all of my girlfriends and when they would spend the night he would tell scary stories and play scary games. In fact, one of his favorites was a really scary version of Hide and Go Seek called "Fee Fi Fo" in which all the lights in the house would be turned out while my brother and I hid and waited for Dad to find us...except that my dad would start in the uttermost corner of the house, growling and snarling "fee, fi, fo fum. I smell the blood of an Englishman!" As a child, this was the kind of terrifying fun in which you're not so sure you're really having any fun. When Dad would find us, he would tickle us to death. The bad kind of tickle - you know, where you wish you could die instead of keep getting tickled! Anyone who grew up around my dad suffered from the horror of being tickled. (But I do remember my brother and I saying, "do it again, Daddy!")
As the senior pastor of the largest Baptist church in our town in Georgia, my dad had a lot on his plate. However, he came home for lunch every day and would read to us. In fact, two of the biggest memories of my dad are that he instilled in me a true adoration of reading and a vast love for music. My dad read "Les Miserables" to me when I was in third grade. I loved it.

He would have us all lie on the floor while he played Simon and Garfunkel on the record player. Or, on cold winter nights, he would build a fire in the fireplace and put on "The Nutcracker" while my brother and I would dance and act out the parts with our blankies wrapped around our necks as capes. My dad and I are both the kind of people who want to share new songs with our loved ones. We are those people who want you to be quiet and really listen to the words while we sing to the song not so quietly with tears streaming down our face.

It has to be said that my dad has had the biggest influence on my faith. This is not just due to the fact that he was my pastor for 18+ years. It has more to do with the infectiousness of his own faith. He simply loves Jesus with a sweet desperation. My brother and I were bathed in this adoration for God while growing up - sort of like a "trickle down theory." My dad worked hard to teach us about Christianity. We memorized bible verses after dinner while our family hung out around the table. We sang songs all the way to church. Before bed (my dad probably spent close to an hour each night with me at my bedside) he would ask me what I wanted to pray about and we would talk about the Lord.

Later, as I pulled away from him, I would still return to my dad when a crisis of faith arose. I can remember calling Dad from Texas Tech after a disturbing debate with a professor who once had been an Christian evangelist but had then denounced the faith after turning to Zen Buddhism. I had spent an hour in his office arguing with him and I could feel my convictions being mocked and shrinking to that power of intellectualism. I had to talk to my Dad! After all, he too had been a college professor and he would know how to argue with this guy! Dad merely reminded me of 2 Corinthians 4 and told me that arguing wouldn't fix things. Sometimes the gospel is veiled and we can't lose heart.
On the day of my wedding I was very excited and very distracted by all the last minute details that needed to be done. As you can see above, I was constantly looking around to make sure stuff was being taken care of in the way that I wanted. Control freak much? (and doesn't that photo say so much? the two Merediths, shouting orders, while Russ looks on contentedly)

My dad, however, was full of glee. It was like he'd had 7 Red Bulls for breakfast. While I was going through my to-do list, he kept bothering me: "Beck! Hey Beck! Beck!" I finally looked over and said, "Dad! WHAT?! I'm busy!" Then, with a sideways smile and in a small voice my dad said, "Oh...well, I just wondered if we could practice our Father-Daughter dance." It hit me. I was getting married and my dad was just so happy...but he just wanted a little more time with me. (Tears, again, while writing this.)My dad has always loved kids. He loves to tease them, loves to talk with them, enjoying their joie de vivre. While I was pregnant, his friends began to joke that he would be over the moon for his granddaughter. But Dad, very unlike him, began almost steeling himself for the shock of it all. He kept saying, "I'm sure I'll really be excited when she's a little older...you know, during the first 4 months they are really just little eating, sleeping machines." I think that since it hadn't hit him that he'd be a grandfather, he wasn't sure he'd be all that into it in the beginning.

Um, I think it's clear he's smitten now.

Happy (early) birthday, Dad. You set a very high bar for me that helped me walk the bumpy road of life with Jesus, helped me choose the right husband, and is helping me try very, very hard to be the kind of parent that you've been to me! I am a huge fan, and I always will be! I love you.

Remember our secret!

5 comments:

Katy said...

Happy Birthday Brother Al!

and Beckles, I love the way you wrote about your dad. You are very much your dad in many ways. He gave you a lot of good stuff - and the love for teasing, singing and storytelling :)

lindsay said...

thanks for the birthday post which makes MY dad's birthday post appear as though I hate his freaking guts! Just for that I'm putting Davy's social security number on the web.

kidding- aren't our dads the best?

Mike and Jess said...

What a sweet post about your Dad! There is something so neat about Dads and their girls.

And p.s. you look BEAUTIFUL in your wedding day picture!

Davidson's Diary said...

Wow Bec- that put tears in my eyes! What a great birthday present to your dad!

JNSW said...

Awww, good daddies are one of the best things in the whole wide world. Happy birthday to your good daddy.