I love the silence of the early hours of the morning. The stillness of sleeping children. The sound of the birds waking up for a new day. The singing of birds floods fond memories of my late dad who passed out of this life and into the next on the 27th of July 1994. Almost seventeen years on and I remember my dad with great joy. What an awesome father he was.
He was Portuguese. He grew up with 10 siblings. They were a farming family in Mozambique. His dad, my grandfather died when my dad was 6. There was a storm and he went outside to bring the cows in because the lightning and thunder was disturbing them and he went to close the huge gate so that they would not flee in terror. He stepped on a wire lying on the dusty ground, it went deep into his foot, he later died as a result of the poison of the rusted wire.
Shortly after that my grandmother moved to South Africa with her eleven children. Sadly that is all I know of my dad's history, except that he also only got his first pair of school shoes when he was 14. He always used to say to me,"why do you need shoes in every colour? I owned my first pair of school shoes only at age 14." sadly I still have a shoe fetish! I know he matriculated at an Afrikaans school and then joined what was then The South African Railways now called Spoornet.
He married my mother June, and had my sister Glynis, then me and then my brother. We lived a simple and happy life. My mom and dad divorced after 22 years of marriage. My dad was broken after that. He was a stanch Roman Catholic and he never took communion after his divorce. It broke my heart that he felt that his failure to succeed at his marriage made him feel unworthy to accept the greatest gift given to mankind, the death of Jesus- His salvation marred because of this. My mom remarried but she too does not feel that she is worthy to take the holy sacrament of communion. She has never forgiven herself.
After the divorce I stayed with my dad. Initially I judged my mother but after years of being married- 20 years infact, I realise that she had come to a place that she could not go on and she had to get out. She was not fortunate like myself to have had the faith and grace in tough times to lean on the everlasting arms.
When my dad passed away I had two young children. I was eight months pregnant with Jason when my dad suffered a massive stroke. Two months after Jason was born my dad paased away. He suffered short term memory loss after the stroke and he could not remember that I was pregnant. When Jason was born it made no sense to him, I would visit him and he would always talk to Ashleigh who was only 15 months but he did could not understand that I had another baby. I used to visit him at his home most mornings. The stroke had left him paralysed on his left side. I would sometimes shave him if I managed to settle the children. He was very frustrated with his limited movement and dependance on everyone, he had been a very independant and proud man. However the week he died somehow by God's grace I was sitting with him one morning helping him to drink his tea, and he asked me "How is your other one?" I replied "Do you mean Jason, Dad?" So I picked him up and asked my dad if he would like to hold him, I will never forget those precious few moments when he held Jason in his arms for the first time acknowledging my son. That was the Thursday~he died the early hours of Sunday morning in his sleep.
So I hear the birds singing and I remember him with fondness, what a privledge to have been fathered by this kind hearted man, he taught me to understand the Father heart of God, it is thanks to my dad that I have such a great understanding of God not only as my creator and Saviour, but as one who can cry out "Abba Father". He was a good earthly father who loved me and showed me only kindness, he was always so proud of my achievements as a ballet dancer and scholar. He was a good provider,I miss him a lot. My children would have adored him, my boys love soccer and he would have spent hours coaching them. He also taught me the meaning of hard work. He worked selflessly to provide for us, I never lacked for anything, especially love there was always plenty of that in our home and he was always hospitable to my many different friends that I would bring home.
I often listen to the song by Josh Groban "To where you are" Somedays I can almost feel my dad's presence as he smiles down on me, the memories of him so clear. And sometimes weeks or even months will go by when I have not even thought about him in my busy life. Some days it feels like his death was a lifetime ago, and sometimes like today when the song of a bird sparks that memory it is like a movie in my head especially those last few months we shared together me as a stay at home mom shopping with him feeding the ducks with Ashleigh, laughing together....
"The man that meant the world to me
A love beyond compare
When I needed "life support"
My dad was always there.
I recall so many days
I remember special things
And now I know he's up on high
I see his angel wings
My dad was my protector
Yet he taught me how to face
The trials that life would hand to me
He showed how to embrace....
Everyday and everything
The good times and the bad
I miss him and will always love
That special man.....My Dad.