Scraping the Slush – A Special Tribute on Father’s Day

 

Hi, sweet readers!  I have been absent from the blogging world for far too long.  And for my first post back, I didn’t even do a majority of the writing—my husband did!  I’m SO lame!  In all seriousness though, I asked my husband to write something special for Father’s Day.

Here’s a little background first:

So, I have the most amazing father-in-law, Roger Bond, who I’ve actually known since I was born.  Our families were great friends and attended church together.  Sadly, I never knew him as my father-in-law though because he passed away three years before Randy and I dated and married.  He was diagnosed with liver cancer in December of 2000 and died in March of 2001.  I was in college at the time and remember the phone call from my mom telling me that Roger had passed.  I sat in my dorm room and just sobbed at my desk.  I now often think about how unfair it is that he never got to know me as his daughter-in-law.  My children never got to meet him.  And we have to do this whole family thing without him.  His legacy certainly lives on though.  My husband was raised right by him, and we try to raise our kids how Roger would.

So for this Father’s Day, I wanted to honor my late father-in-law, Roger Bond.  I asked my husband to write about him for me.  I wish he could share with you all about him, but you’d be reading for days.  To keep it brief, he chose to share about the day his dad died, and a heartwarming childhood memory from him.  It’s one of unconditional love that we can all learn from.  Enjoy {but also grab a tissue}.

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By Randy: 

My dad died in March of 2001, and I remember it like it was yesterday.

I had started my first teaching job as a vocal music teacher just a few months before my dad was diagnosed with liver cancer. We were in the middle of rehearsals for the musical South Pacific when I got a call from my mom saying, “If you want to say goodbye, you’d better come see your father tonight.

It’s weird because I actually had some hesitation and a mental “discussion” with myself.

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My father-in-law Roger (left) and husband Randy (right) at his college graduation party.

I knew if I went to see him, he would scold me for missing my rehearsal and my responsibilities with my high school students.

But of course I went.

I left my students with the accompanist to rehearse with her and headed to my parents’ house.

I remember seeing him there on the hospital bed they moved into the living room (he was no longer able to climb the stairs to get to his room on the second floor).  I thought, “This isn’t the man I grew up with.” He was pale, frail, and yellow from the liver cancer that had overtaken him.

He was resting, but mom told me to wake him as he’d be disappointed if he found out I’d visited and hadn’t talked to him. I touched his shoulder and got my face close to his and said, “Dad, it’s Randy, I’m here.”

He roused, grunted a little bit, then his eyes caught mine. He smiled and said, “Hi, Sonny.” (his frequent term of endearment for me).

I smiled back and touched his forehead … then his smile went away, and he said, “Shouldn’t you be at rehearsal with your students?” I smiled again and told him that I would go up to rehearsal after our visit.

At this point in his brief battle, he barely had the strength to keep his eyes open, but we shared a short conversation, I kissed him on the forehead, and he told me, “Go back to your kids and your rehearsal. They need you more than I do.”

I left and returned to the high school, which was about an hour drive from his house. One of my students, Chris, was waiting for a ride as I pulled in to the parking lot.

“Rehearsal over already?” I asked.

He made a witty comment about how the accompanist wasn’t a drill sergeant like me.  At this point, a police officer pulled into the parking lot, drove up to us and asked if I was “Randall Bond.”  My student and I both looked at each other—knowing what this must mean. Chris gave me a hug and said, “I’m sorry Mr. Bond” and walked to his mother’s car.

The officer informed me that my mom had been trying to call the high school and finally decided to call the police to try and get a hold of me (I did not have a cell phone at the time—ridiculous to think now, huh?).  I went into the school and called my mom, and she told me that Dad had passed shortly after I had left.

I don’t remember crying as I drove back to my mom’s house. All my siblings were there.  We weren’t allowed into the living room as they removed his body, so we were all stationed in the kitchen, which in my mind made sense as that was really the “hub” of our house growing up anyway.

Hundreds showed up for his funeral and viewing—many of whom I had never seen in my life. People from work, his many missions trips, friends, and distant family members. A similar message was uttered over and over and over, “Your dad was such a good man.” “You’re dad always talked about you and your family.” “Your dad was such a godly man, who always talked about his faith.” And on it went. I remember thinking, “I will never be the man my dad was.”

Now, my dad was not perfect. I know, sometimes, we tend to really put people on a pedestal after they have passed, but my dad had many flaws. He did, however, do one thing exceptionally well, and that was to show love, compassion, and mercy. I didn’t often see the last two in my younger years … but if you knew me then, you’d know how crazy I drove my Dad (and teachers . . . and pastors . . . and family members . . .), so I’m not so sure it was fully deserved.

I was talking to a friend on the phone a few years after my dad passed, and she asked a unique question, “Have you ever experienced unconditional love?”

This memory of my dad is what popped into my head to share with her:

I remember one winter when my dad took my two younger brothers and me ice skating. We hiked to a small pond above our house with skates tied together and slung over our shoulders. When we made it to the pond, we boys wanted to run right out on the ice, but Dad stopped us, pulled out a hatchet, and began chopping through the frozen surface.

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My father-in-law, Roger, carrying my husband, Randy, and his little brother, Bob, up the stairs.

He explained that he wouldn’t let us skate unless it was at least six inches thick.  He cut a small hole and measured.  I have no idea how thick it was, only that he said we could go.

Dad was actually quite a good skater. Us boys? Not so much. In fact, I can confidently say, we were horrible. Things weren’t made easier by the fact that the sun was out—warming up the ice so there was a layer of slush on top of that pond.

Over the next four hours my dad took the runner sled we brought with us, turned it sideways, and scraped the slush off the top of that pond for us so we could skate a little better. Four hours he did not skate or do anything but watch us . . . and scrape off that slush.

It was such an odd thing to remember. At the time I really didn’t think much of it at all (what young boy would, really?). But now, as an adult with children of my own, I realized what a great lesson in love that was.

I often remember that story.  It’s typically when I’m teaching, or frustrated with someone, or dealing with my own children. Because, sometimes, if you want the best for someone, you have scrape off a little “slush.”  Maybe it’s showing love. Maybe it’s being quiet and listening. Maybe it’s providing discipline.  That day, it was literally scraping off the slush from a small pond so his boys can enjoy a few hours of skating.

I miss my dad; it’s amplified on Father’s Day. Selfishly I wish he was here to see what I’m doing with my life and so I could brag about my five children to him.

I still wonder if I’ll ever be the man my dad was … in the mean time, I’ll just keep pushing slush.

Love you, Dad.

Randy

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Happy Father’s Day, readers.

Love,

Courtney.

 

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