by Lori Henry
Mar25MonMarch 25, 2019 Lori Henry
ORIGINAL POST: DECEMBER 6, 2017
My dad was my hero! He was a big bear of a man, with a gentle heart! I adored him! When I was only about 4 years old, I remember sitting with him in the summer, and noticing scars on his knees. I asked him what happened. We lived in Pennsylvania, and mountains surrounded our home. He pointed to the top of the mountain and said, "Lor, do you see that mountain?", and I replied that, yes, I did. "Well, I was up there one day, and a big Grizzly bear started chasing me, and I wrestled him the whole way down the side of that mountain, and that's where these scars came from!" I remember just staring with a mixture of thrill, fright and amazement that my dad wrestled a big old Grizzly bear down over that mountain!!
Of course, there were no Grizzly bears in Pennsylvania, therefore, my dad never wrestled one down the side of the mountain! It was a "story" that he told his wide-eyed little girl. But, I believed it wholeheartedly! My dad could do anything! He was strong. He was amazing!
I also remember the time he took me fishing in the creek that ran behind our home. I loved fishing with him! He taught me how to bait the hook with a worm and cast my line in the water. A little distance away from us, there were two men who were also fishing. They were using some foul language. I recall my dad hollering over to them saying, "Hey! I'd appreciate it if you didn't use that kind of language! Can't you see there's a lady present?" He meant me! My heart swelled with pride at being called a "lady", and for the fact that my big, strong dad cared enough about me to see that those men stopped using foul language in my presence!
I caught a tiny little trout that day, and my dad made the biggest deal over it! We went home and he showed me how to prepare it for the grill. We grilled it, and then sat at our picnic table, under our willow tree and ate it together. A little girl and her daddy. All of life was right. There was no place else I'd rather have been.
In 1972, our part of Pennsylvania got hit very hard with the effects of a hurricane. As I mentioned earlier, there was a creek behind our house. It rained and poured unmercifully for days and days. Usually, we couldn't see the creek from our home, as it was down over an embankment. I can remember one day standing at a bedroom window, and I could see the brown, muddy water of the creek! Within three or four days, I could stand at the downstairs kitchen window and see the water angrily flowing in the creek! Within two or three more days, we had to take refuge at my aunt and uncle's farm house several miles away as the creek overflowed its bank and wreaked its devastation on our entire neighborhood. I can remember going home with my dad to see the after affects of the flood. Our once beautiful yard was covered in sandy dirt with twigs, logs, bottles and silt. Our garden was gone. Our barn, which was to house a little pony for me, was lying in a crumbled heap! My dream of riding a little pony along the little roads of our neighborhood would never happen now.
About three months later, after mom and dad got the yard and house cleaned up, and squared things up with their insurance company, I got a call one afternoon from my dad, who was at work. He worked for New Holland farm machinery, which was in the heart of Amish country. "Lor, since you can't have a little pony now, I want to ask you something. How would you like a little lamb?" A lamb! I loved animals....all kinds of animals, but had never thought of a lamb! "I'd love a lamb, daddy!", I excitedly answered! A few days later, Bucky arrived! A sweet little lamb with a black face. We became fast friends! He had a leather collar, and I would put a leash on him and walk him down the road like a dog! We would lay in the grass together. I would call his name out of my bedroom window, and he would call me to me. It was childhood at its best! My dad thought we were the cutest pair alive! He allowed me to bring Bucky into the house when mom would go for groceries! I loved that lamb, and I loved my dad!
On May 13, 1977, I was in high school. My oldest sister, Luann, was a nursing student and had just gotten home from school. I got home from school, also, and we decided to go and get a bucket of chicken for dad at the local Red Barn. Mom was working at the local bank, and my sister, Kelly, was in Michigan on a band trip. I scribbled a quick note to dad, telling him that Luann and I went to get him chicken for supper, and that we'd be home soon. He would be home from work before we got back. As I was shutting the back door, the phone rang. I ran and answered it and heard the devastating news that daddy was being taken to the hospital. He'd had a massive heart attack, and we were to go to the hospital, quickly! Dad was 42 years old.
I ran to the car and told my sister. We drove to the bank and picked up mom. We raced to the Emergency Room of our hospital. They led us to a quiet room all by ourselves. My sister had had enough training that she knew when they put you in a private room all by yourselves it was not a good sign. The doctor and nurse came in a few minutes later and told us that daddy didn't make it. Leading us to his bedside, I cried uncontrollably. My mother gently reminded us that he was in heaven, with Jesus. The days and months to follow were sad and difficult. My grades went down in school. I missed him. He'd never get to see me graduate. He wouldn't walk any of his 3 daughters down the aisle on our wedding days. He'd never see his grandchilden. I didn't have a dad anymore!
There have been many times since that day that I've wished my dad could have been here. Oh, how he'd love his grandkids and great-grandkids! Oh, how he'd love that my husband is a pastor! But, God's plans and ways are above our plans and ways, and, unlike ours, His ways are perfect! My dad is in heaven worshipping the King of Kings! He wouldn't want to come back here!
A very important thing that I have been reminded of is this: God is my Father! Even though my earthly father is not here anymore, God is always here! Matthew 6:9 tells me, "After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven." Psalms 68:5 says that God is "a Father of the fatherless." Isaiah 64:8 also tells me that the LORD is our father, as does Matthew 6:9. Romans 8:15 even calls God "Abba, Father", which is a verse I love so much, because it literally is translated, "daddy" or "papa." It shows a close, intimate relationship with God Himself! The same God of Isaiah 6:1-3 is also my daddy, my Father!
This has been of great comfort to me through the years. No, my earthly dad has never met my husband, but my heavenly daddy has...and knows him by name! My earthly dad has never seen my children or grandchildren, but my heavenly daddy knew all about each one as they were being formed! I cannot converse with my dad anymore, but I certainly can with my Heavenly Father! I talk to Him every day. I read His Word also! He loves me. He saved me. He has given me eternal life! He is preparing a home for me! I will live with Him forever! I will miss my earthly dad until I see him again in heaven someday, but I'm so very thankful for my "Abba, Father" as He tenderly loves me.