|I totally stole this picture....|
I have two dads here on earth. My biological one, Jim, and my step-dad, Billy. They are very different guys and I'm thankful for the influence they both had on my life.
I have learned over the last few years of getting to know my dad, Jim, better that my contemplative side totally comes from him. I might not be as introverted as he is read occasionally socially awkward ;-) but he and I process much the same. At least as much the same as a man and a woman born a generation apart can. He has stacks of journals, have you seen my attic??? The only possession he cares about me having when he dies - his Bible. I can totally relate. Words to him are to be cherished. He doesn't waste them as I am prone to do and when he's out of them he says just that. "Well Shannon, I'm out of words" Can't tell you how many phone conversations we've had end this way. I may waste a good deal more words than he does but I value them the same way. I cherish them, I treasure them up in my heart and when you use them to bless or curse me I totally notice. If I'm pissed at you, you'll know it, through my words. And satire, oh how I love satire, totally get that from him. My dad loves knowing people, he wants to know about their lives but has little patience for small talk and has lived alone for the last thirty years. I also get some frivolous things from him like freckles, more Irish temper than I care to admit, and my absolute propensity to be on time and calculate exactly how long it should take to do something. Oh and my last name, the one I had for 23 years and recently reclaimed. So thanks Dad, you may not realize that you affected my life so positively. You may not realize how much I cherish our visits and really look forward to you coming to see us. You may not realize that all your idiosyncraisies that totally used to annoy the crap out of me are now really endearing. I love you, Dad. Sorry I haven't been better at showing it.
Jim may have come first, he may have helped shaped me biologically and through my very nature. But to be fair Billy was there for all the nurture. My mom and Billy married when I was three. I don't remember life before him and although there was a year when he and I weren't speaking not so long ago, I could not give up life with him now and shouldn't have then either. He was the man that raised me. He was my Dad is my Dad and has been my Dad day in and day out. He is a grandfather to my children and he loves all four of us tremendously. Billy, my dad, was the one who took us to church every Sunday. Taught me every limited thing I know about any sport. And confronted my teachers when they wronged me. He was the one who drove me to band practice, he helped pay for college and taught me how to drive stick shift. He was the one who came over with mom the day of my great reveal. And he's the one who threatened (as of yet has not followed through with) physical violence to anyone who would hurt me. He loves my babies fiercely and Eowyn is the spring in his not so spry step. He's stood by my mother through thick and thin and he was the father to my sister that we buried. He is just as much my dad. From him I received so much stellar advice, much of which I ignored over the years and now causes me to pause when he gives it because he doesn't just hand it out like free lollipops. I've seen him laugh and cry and he has taught me what a man's quiet and gentle strength looks like. He finally convinced me after years of telling me that if he ever stops picking on me then I'll know he has stopped caring. And because of him I have a great southern family who really taught my mom and I how to cook.
I have much to be thankful for with both of my fathers. But what I'm the most thankful for today is that they've both pointed me to Jesus. As we sat in the courthouse waiting last weekend, Billy did something I hadn't remembered seeing before, he stopped and prayed just with me, he asked God for his hand over everything that was to happen that day. God answered that prayer very clearly for us. And the last time Jim visited, he encouraged me to look heavenward. He talked about the fact that we need to take our focus off of the temporal and the earthly. He told me to focus on the eternal. What will I really do that lasts forever? And he gave me a wonderful gift of telling me that as far as the hear and now goes, I'm it. I'm all he's got.
Thanks Dad... Thanks Dad... for being my earthly fathers, may I be able to honor you both with my life.