Nine years ago today, my world, and that of my mom and sisters was turned upside down when Dad left us to go to Heaven. I don’t think we will ever feel like things on Earth are normal again, because obviously, normal for us was having him in our lives on a daily basis. It’s hard to pass this day without feeling a sense of loss…no matter how many years have passed, because all that’s left to us are the memories.
Memories of childhood days come up in my memory first. The many camping trips our parents took us on, and the things we saw, and learned, and did. It was Dad that taught us how to read a map by taking out the atlas and allowing us to help map out our trips. My friends had no idea how to read a map, and while I use GPS these days, I can read a map without any trouble. It was Dad who taught us to build a campfire, and we who taught him that girls are sure that if Dad puts another log on the fire, the bears will stay away. It was Dad who filled us with the wonders our great nation had to offer by taking his family all over the country, and showing us things like the Statue of Liberty, the Grand Canyon, Washington DC, the Black Hills, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone National Park, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and so much more. Our summer vacations were filled with adventure, and we knew that we were very blessed.
As we grew, our relationship obviously changed, but the values that Dad, and Mom too, taught us remained. Dad was always one to live by the Biblical principle, “Never let the sun go down on your wrath,” and so if we argued with each other, or our parents, Dad would be the one to come to us and tell us that we had to make up before the day ended. We may not have felt like doing so, but we obeyed Dad, because he was our dad. I can’t say that I have ever regretted making up with my family, although I may not have liked it at the time. It was what kept our family close. Dad knew the importance of forgiveness, and instilled that in us too.
As my parents grew older, time was the top priority for them. They wanted their daughters to come over…often, to spend time with them. And they wanted the grandchildren to come too. Their family was the top priority, and they wanted us to know how much we meant to them. Lunches spent at their house, with all the girls talking, and Dad barely getting a word in edgewise, were the normal things in their house. I don’t think Dad really minded that either. He loved hearing the voices and the laughter of his girls, and seeing their smiling faces. Dad was all about family, and I will never regret the lunches and evenings spent there, because that was when blessings took on the feeling of warmth. It saddens me that my dad has been gone for nine years now, and all that’s left are the memories…but I am very thankful for those memories, because they are what keeps him close. We love and miss you so much Dad.
Most of the pictures we take and display or share of our kids, show smiling faces and children on their best behavior. It’s not that anyone thinks that there is a perfect child, who never cries or refuses to cooperate, it’s just that the challenging moments we all have with our children, don’t usually find their way into the memories we share or even want to have. As a grandmother, who has graduated from the idea that there is a way to always make sure your child behaves when they are in front of people, I have begun to appreciate the other side of photography…the not so perfect, non-smiley faced picture of a child. I don’t mind the face that screams, “I’m over it!!” It’s something we would all like to do at some point in our lives…or even our day, but as adults, we have to control ourselves a little more. Sometimes we lose control too, but kids are so much more free to just express their disgust over how things are going than adults are.
Many kids these days are used to having their pictures taken. My niece, Aleesia Spethman sees a camera and immediately strikes a pose and puts on a smiling face. She loves having her picture taken, but even Aleesia has her breaking point…that point when she is tired and in truth, over it. Since she is only three, I’m sure some of those grumpy faces were due to needing a nap, because Aleesia is usually a very smiley faced girl. Nevertheless, Aleesia is no pushover, as her brothers can attest. She is quick to let people know if they are getting on her last nerve. Still, for the most part she loves having her picture taken, and she is a very photogenic little girl.
Sometimes, two little ones are vying for superiority, or maybe ownership of an item or spot. Personally, I find it pretty funny when little ones try to show each other who is the boss. In the end this little fight between my grandson, Christopher Petersen and my granddaughter, Shai Royce, who are only a day apart in age, and who, at birth weighed exactly the same 7 pounds 3 ounces, was a no win situation, because as I recall, they both had to get out of the car seat. Funny thing that. Most kids hate to sit in a car seat, and yet since this one wasn’t in the car, it somehow became not a car seat, but rather a toy, or maybe just a chair. It made no difference how the moms felt about how the kids were acting. They both felt like they were the one who had been there first, and they were both over the whole situation.