I stand at the kitchen counter making a Tres Leche Cake for my man for Father’s Day. It’s his favorite dessert and it’s one small thing that I can do for this man God gave me to journey with me on this walk through life and to lead our children by setting an example as a Godly father. I am wrestling with the blanket of melancholy that threatens to smother me as we approach yet another holiday; a holiday my man calls a “made up holiday so people can sell things”.
He would rather forget about today, as if that were possible. He doesn’t want it to be about him. Instead he chooses to focus on others. He began the day by teaching our only daughter how to make his special pancakes. He celebrates his own father by dutifully wrapping the gift card (Yes, of course he wrapped it in Christmas paper!). He grills lunch for our families and tries to enjoy the banter around the table. He sits next to our college son who came home to be with the man he loves and honors. He waits for he knows the far away son will call. He puts on the bracelet that a young son made for him and holds the sign he picked out especially for him to hang in his man cave and we take a picture so we can have a memory.
I mix the cake and I grin as my mind takes me to the smile that I know will be on his face when he takes a bite and makes that “mmm umm” sound I know he will make. Yet, I still feel it tightening. The sweltering heat and irritation of the lugubrious blanket of grief wraps around me. My heart breaks as I watch the man I love so much through the window while he drives his tractor over the field. It’s his form of therapy. It’s a place he can be alone and open with the emotions that plague him. It’s a place he can cry out to God where no one can see his pain. But I know how he hurts and I watch him as he struggles with the emotions of a day that once brought joy and now brings pain.
So I intentionally shift my focus. A small Chipping Sparrow flies by and lands in the slender branches of the Taylor Juniper outside my kitchen window. The green, spindly limbs are tousled by the blowing wind. The little sparrow doesn’t seem to notice. As I look more closely I see that nestled deep inside the slender tree that we purposely planted because of its name, is a nest. Four fuzzy little heads perched on long skinny necks poke themselves up above the safe walls of the nest. They open wide their disproportionally large mouths in anticipation of a meal and mom carefully divides the feast and then flies away. All the while, there is another sparrow perched on the nearby shepherd’s hook that holds the hummingbird feeder. He seems innocuous, but as the teenaged boy appears with a weedeater, he quickly takes flight to the nest to protect the young babies while mom is in search of another course to satisfy their insatiable appetites. This is father. The babies seem oblivious to his role in their lives, yet he is integral in their survival. It is his job to watch, sometimes from a distance, so that he can protect them. He is always there, even when the young ones are unaware. When danger seems to be imminent, he sweeps in closely. Another lesson in nature of the one true Father.
I stop and thank God for my man who is such an amazing father. I thank Him for the lesson of the Chipping Sparrow, an often overlooked part of His creation. I thank God that I can call him Father and that He is always watching and protecting. For now, I lay aside my blanket of melancholy and allow this moment to be woven into a warm blanket of security that provides much needed comfort.